The Government has dropped the provisions of the Welfare Reform Act 2009 relating to drug users. Drug recovery pilot programmes due to be launched in October 2010 have now been abandoned – the programmes would have introduced drug testing for claimants; information sharing between the police and Jobcentre plus; and mandatory attendance on a drug awareness course – failure to attend would have resulted in sanctions. Furthermore, mandatory referrals of problem drug users by Jobcentre Plus staff to treatment providers in non pilot areas has also been dropped.
The driver behind this decision was the report from the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), which following public consultation, found that the pilot programmes were ‘unlikely to be effective, contain a number of significant flaws and won’t produce robust results’. The report was critical of the overall scheme, stating that ‘it would drive people further away from the labour market’. The report also pointed to a number of arguments Release made in its consultation response to the SSAC opposing most aspects of the scheme.
Release is delighted that these provisions have been dropped. The organisation campaigned tirelessly on this issue throughout 2009.