Express & Star

'Cashpoint parties' and 'drugs demand surge' after benefits claimants' cost of living payments

Celebrations outside cashpoints and impromptu drugs parties – all triggered by cost of living payments to benefits claimants.

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Witness have described scenes of 'bedlam' outside a cashpoint

That is the picture painted today by those living on benefits in the Black Country, who say a minority of others are frittering away their payments on drugs and alcohol.

They say opportunistic dealers have even seen sales surge in the hours after cost of living payments land in benefit claimants' accounts.

The Government autumn cost of living payment was £300, the final instalment this year, and was paid between October 31 and November 19, directly into people’s accounts at midnight. Due to the recipients not knowing exactly which day it would be paid, many struggling benefit claimants were so overjoyed they went overboard.

One single mother who lives opposite a cash machine dreaded the payouts, which were automatically paid to millions over a three-week period, to help people cope with rising bills due to inflation.

She said: “Each time payments went in it was bedlam outside. The first time last year there was even chanting ‘we’re having a cost of living party’ and there would be drug dealers waiting to sell them stuff immediately. Then there were arguments about money, with people who were owed turning up too. The cashpoint is the only one for a mile or two which does not charge, so everyone uses it.”

The 45-year-old mother-of-two, who says she is too frightened of her family being “targeted” to reveal her identity or location. She would only confirm it was on the edge of the Black Country.