DrugScope has welcomed a report by the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) which identifies the need for more action to address the barriers to employment faced by recovering problem drug users, particularly around the concerns of prospective employers.
Two-thirds of employers surveyed for the UKDPC’s ‘Working towards recovery: getting problem drug users into jobs’ report indicated they would refuse to employ a former heroin or crack cocaine user, even if they had the competencies required for the job. The UKDPC also highlight the government’s forthcoming Equality Bill as a potential opportunity to tackle discrimination against former drug users.
The findings come a week after the Department of Work and Pensions published its Welfare Reform White Paper. The paper includes a number of proposals targeted at getting problem drug users into work including the creation of new drug co-ordinator posts in Jobcentre Plus and benefit sanctions for individuals who do not engage with employment support, including drug treatment, ‘without good cause’.
Commenting on the UKDPC report, DrugScope Chief Executive Martin Barnes, said:
“This report highlights the formidable barriers to employment faced by problem drug users, not least the stigma faced by people in drug treatment and the concerns of prospective employers.
"We can see little in the government's proposed welfare reforms which will directly address these important issues. We also support calls to consider extending discrimination laws to include recovering drug users.
“The government’s commitment to supporting drug users to access employment support and training is welcomed but getting an individual ‘fit for work’ is only half the story. To finish the job and get recovering drug users into work, a receptive labour market is essential. Employers need more support to make this a reality.”
Notes to editors:
For more information or interviews contact Andrew McNicoll in the DrugScope press office at email@example.com or call 020 7520 7563 (07736 895563 out of hours)