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Alcoholics claiming incapacity benefits

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Hundreds of people in the Black Country are claiming benefits because they are alcoholics, figures reveal today.

Hundreds of people in the Black Country are claiming benefits because they are alcoholics, figures reveal today.

Up to 240 people in each borough have claimed either incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance due to drink dependency. Each could be picking up between £51 and £84-a-week in state handouts funded by taxpayers.

The figures, the latest available which date back to November 2007, have been rounded up to the nearest 10 and reveal there were 240 claimants in Sandwell, 200 in Wolverhampton, 190 in Dudley, 170 in Walsall and 20 in South Staffordshire.

Mark Wallace, spokesman for campaign group the TaxPayers' Alliance, said today: "I think it is bad for taxpayers and clearly bad for addicts who are having their addictions paid for by the welfare state.

"It is very worrying for people who are struggling to pay their bills – the last thing they want to see is their hard-earned money being spent on booze by alcoholics."

The figures, released by the Department for Work and Pensions following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, show the number of claimants where alcoholism is the main disabling condition.

To qualify for incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance, people have to undergo a medical assessment.

Since April 2001, people have not been able to make a new claim for severe disablement allowance but those who already received it were able to continue doing so.

Payments are £51.05 with additions with age of up to £17.75. Incapacity payments range from £63.75 to £84.50 a week. Ordinary jobseekers receive up to £60.50 a week Jobseekers Allowance.

The West Midlands has the third highest alcohol death rate in England, with an average of 17.1 men for every 100,000 members of the population dying from drink-related illnesses. The rate for women is 8.1 deaths per 100,000 people.

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