80,000 On Benefits For Obesity And Addictions (c) Sky News 2011
More than 80,000 people are claiming incapacity benefit for obesity and addiction to alcohol and drugs, Government figures have revealed.
Some 12,880 alcoholics and 9,200 drug addicts have been dependent on the payouts for more than 10 years.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the benefits system was responsible for trapping people in a "cycle of addiction and welfare dependency".
The figures show that 81,760 incapacity benefit (IB) claimants are not working because they are obese (1,830) or suffering from drug (37,480) or alcohol problems (42,360).
Some 660 obese people have been claiming IB for more than a decade.
Mr Grayling said: "It's not fair on anyone for this situation to continue.
"Far from being the safety net it should be, the benefits system has trapped thousands of people in a cycle of addiction and welfare dependency with no prospect of getting back to work.
"We are putting an end to this, we won't allow people to be left on benefits and forgotten about. That's why we have already started reassessing everyone on incapacity benefit and will support people with addictions to help them back into work."
There are currently 2.1 million on IB and the annual bill is £7bn. The benefit is paid at three weekly rates: £68.95 for the first 28 weeks, £81.60 from weeks 29 to 52 and £91.40 from week 53.
Existing claimants are currently going through reassessments to see whether they are fit to work or need help first from the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said the coalition's cuts were to blame.
He said: "It was Labour that changed the law to start testing people on incapacity benefit to see who was fit for work.
"But the real problem now is the Tories' decision to cut too far and too fast has meant that unemployment is set to increase every year - by up to 200,000 more people - helping push the benefits bill up by a massive £12 billion or £500 for every household in Britain.
"With five people now chasing every job, what we need to get people off benefits and paying tax is more jobs."
The figures, released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are a snapshot of incapacity benefit claimants in August 2010.
Since February 2010 no new IB claimants have been accepted.