Bankrolling town's drug problem?

THE Government today stands accused of bankrolling Weston's drug and alcohol problems through a jobsworth ruling which could cost lives.

THE Government today stands accused of 'bankrolling Weston's drug and alcohol problems' through a jobsworth ruling which could cost lives.

A Weston property landlord has this week told the Mercury how half his tenants - many battling drug and alcohol addiction - have written to the authorities begging for a change of rules which they believe will give them a fighting chance of overcoming their affliction.

They want to see their housing benefit paid directly to their landlords, instead of being handed to them, as they fear they may be too weak to resist the temptation which a sudden windfall can represent to an addict.

It seems a simple plea, yet it is one which has been denied.

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The council's hands are tied by new Government rules which won't permit such a commonsense request without tenants first jumping through hoops to satisfy strict criteria laid down by medical professionals.

For many addicts, this proves a step too far.

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"The temptation is just too great," recovering addict Perry Morgan told the Mercury this week.

"I appreciate a roof over my head because I have lived on the streets - but it is easy to slide back."

It's equally easy for the rest of us to criticise people with addictions and brand their problems as self-made, yet those who recognise their problems and strive to beat them deserve support.

Beating drugs or alcohol can be arduous enough when living in your own, safe home, and when temptation is financially unattainable.

Yet by implementing these new rules, the Government is effectively placing temptation well within reach - and jeopardising the secure home environment which people depend on.

Rule-makers argue that paying money to tenants is an important step towards 'empowering' people to get their lives back on track - but surely offering some commonsense leeway for people to judge their own needs and capabilities should come first.

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