During the 2015 election campaign David Cameron commissioned Dame Carol Black to undertake a rapid review of making engagement with a “treatment plan” mandatory for people on sickness benefits or “face the threat of a reduction in benefits”, referencing drug and alcohol addiction, obesity and stress.
Requirements for consent to treatment* within an ethical framework should mean actual treatment cannot be made compulsory, but whether that would still mean benefits could be reduced for declining treatment is not clear.
More recently the DWP has proposed that Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services be co-located in 350 Jobcentres, alongside a DWP contract tender for digital Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): https://refutedarchive.wordpress.com/workfare/psychocrats/ A key question concerns the interplay between DWP commissioned ‘therapeutic’ schemes and the role of the NHS, Councils, Mental Health and IAPT services making referrals.
The mandatory elements of the drug use pilots included:
- Mandatory referral to Substance Related Assessments (SRAs) and a Treatment Awareness Programme with a specialist drug treatment provider for PDUs on JSA and ESA who are not already in treatment.
- The power for the criminal justice system to supply data to aid both the identification of PDUs not in treatment, and the take-up of in-treatment support for those who are.
- The power to refer to the mandatory SRAs where a Jobcentre Plus adviser has ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion that problem drug use is a barrier to work’. Should claimants in this group refuse to attend two successive SRAs they can be required to take one or more drugs tests.
- The power to impose a mandatory rehabilitation plan where the adviser is satisfied that drug use is a barrier to work, requires treatment but the customer has yet to engage with treatment services.
*The DWP makes liberal use of the word “treatment” in many of it’s pilot and established back to work schemes, meaning those mandated are considered by the DWP as part of a ‘treatment’ group. Compulsory treatment of a medical or psychological nature would engage professional ethics and codes of conduct of bodies such as the BMA, BASW, GMC, BPS, HCPC, NMC, and BACP, let alone that compulsory Tory punchbag known as the Human Rights Act.