An Independent Review into the impact on employment outcomes of drug or alcohol addiction, and obesity by Dame Carol Black was presented to Parliament in December.
The review aimed to address the challenges in finding work for people who are affected by alcohol and other addictions. The report offers an evidence-based analysis of the factors that stand in the way of employment and recommends practical interventions, including changes in services, practices, behaviour and attitudes.
With drugs and alcohol, the research highlights three main areas where action is needed:
- Addiction treatment does not, in itself, ensure employment, though it brings other social gains. Work has not hitherto been an integral part of treatment, and it needs to be if progress is to be made.
- The benefits system, which has a central role in helping people enter or return to work, requires significant change. The system is hampered by a severe lack of information on health conditions, poor incentives for staff to tackle difficult or longterm cases, and a patchy offer of support for those who are reached.
- Employers are the gatekeepers to employment and, without their co-operation employment is impossible. Employers are understandably reluctant to hire people with addiction and/or criminal records. They need Government to derisk these recruitment decisions for them.
Dame Black states that “Our recommendations address these challenges and will, I believe, if properly implemented and evaluated, offer new productive pathways for these currently lost cohorts”.