UK Politics

Plans cut to withdraw benefits from obese

Obese person Image copyright PA
Image caption Downing Street confirmed the plans had been scrapped

Controversial proposals to withdraw benefits from people who refuse treatment for obesity or addiction have been dropped.

The scheme was first considered in February 2015 by then-Prime Minister David Cameron.

But an independent review published on Monday warned it would not help people get back into work.

A Downing Street spokesman said "withdrawing benefits from obese people is not under consideration, no."

Before the last election, Mr Cameron said too many people were stuck on sickness benefits because of issues that could be addressed but were not.

"Some have drug or alcohol problems, but refuse treatment," he said.

"In other cases, people have problems with their weight that could be addressed, but instead a life on benefits rather than work becomes the choice.

"It is not fair to ask hardworking taxpayers to fund the benefits of people who refuse to accept the support and treatment that could help them get back to a life of work."

However, an independent review from Dame Carol Black has come to the conclusion the proposals would not work.

Image caption Dame Carol Black carried out the review

The report said: "We are clear that benefit claimants with addictions should, like all other claimants, do all they can to re-enter work.

"However... we doubt whether mandating addiction treatment - one of the possibilities mentioned in our terms of reference - should be the first response to the evidence problems for the cohorts under discussion."

The review also said making people have treatment could lead to more people hiding their problems rather than seeking help.

"We also heard from health professionals serious concerns about the legal and ethical implications of mandating treatment and whether this would be a cost-effective approach," it said.

The review also did not find evidence that obesity was a causal factor for unemployment or that weight-loss achieved through non-surgical treatment led to employment.

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