Hundreds of Wiganers on disability benefits for booze addiction

Hundreds of Wiganers are claiming disability benefits for alcoholism, putting the borough well above the national average for those unfit to work due to their addiction.

Thursday, 19th July 2018, 12:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th July 2018, 12:42 pm
Hundreds of Wiganers are unfit for work due to alcoholism

Recent figures released by Public Health England have shown that there were more than 300 people claiming disability payments in 2016 due to a serious alcohol addiction.

Other news: Wigan new-build engulfed in flames after suspected arsonIn the most recent data published this month, a rate of 162.3 people per 100,000 were claiming either incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance or employment and support allowance (ESA) where their main health condition was alcohol dependency.

This is higher than the 132.8 per 100,000 people across the entire country.

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Professor Kate Ardern, director of Public Health for Wigan Council said: “Tackling the impact of alcohol in Wigan Borough remains a challenge and we’re working hard through the drug and alcohol service to provide information and support for those affected.

“Additional investment has been made in the enhanced alcohol pathway, which has seen more people identified early to prevent problems from escalating, and through actively approaching individuals who frequently attend accident and emergency, we have seen a reduction in those individuals re-visiting due to issues with alcohol.

“We’re confident that many of our new approaches will support us in making progress in addressing alcohol related issues.

“Our services across both young people and adults demonstrates our commitment to working proactively to engage with individuals at any stage of alcohol problems to improve health and wellbeing and the impact alcohol can have on the wider community.

“This includes working with partner agencies and individuals to get people into specialist services for alcohol use.”

According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), new claimants of ESA are required to undergo the work capability assessment.

Since April 2011, anyone who was claiming incapacity benefits was also asked to undergo the same assessment.

Claimants are not judged on the presence of the medical condition e.g. alcohol dependency, but on their ability to carry out a range of activities monitored in the assessment or on any associated mental health problems.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has been replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP), however the assessment process remains very similar.

Entitlement to PIP depends on an assessment of how much help someone needs with personal care or mobility because of their disability.

The number of claimants in Wigan has dropped slightly since 2015, when there were 167.3 people per 100,000 claiming the benefits.

Across the board, Wigan shows concerning figures depicting an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

In 2016/17 data shows that Wiganers lost more than 2,500 years of their lives (collectively) due to alcohol abuse.