DRUG addicts and alcoholics in Bournemouth top a league of benefits claimants unable to work due to substance abuse.

The town has a higher proportion of people claiming £100 a week handouts for illness or disability caused by drugs and booze than anywhere else in the UK.

The figures have been revealed following publication of statistics for those claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Across the UK around 100,000 people claim the benefit due to addiction, obesity or stress.

In Bournemouth one in 14 of those claiming ESA have alcohol problems while one in 20 are drug addicts.

Cllr Chris Wakefield said he is "not at all surprised" by the findings and said the high proportion of unregulated rehab venues in the town is to blame.

He has long campaigned for tighter controls over such establishments, claiming many don't deliver the support services they offer.

"This is no surprise given the numbers attracted to Bournemouth by people offering support for people with addiction issues" he said.

"People come here with the desire to get better but are failed by many of the service providers. Myself and other councillors are campaigning for a change in legislation to find a positive way of reducing the number of people who are not being supported appropriately."

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood added: "We urgently need to tighten up legislation to make sure drug and alcohol treatment programmes can be inspected and monitored.

"At the moment anyone can set up a programme in their garage if they want to. People come from outside the area and stay in Bournemouth."

Chris Snelling, Drug & Alcohol Action Team Manager, said: “Through our rehabilitation programme, Bournemouth is committed to providing effective treatment to people with alcohol and drug addiction, and deliver an aftercare service to get those people back into education and employment.

"We work closely with our partners like Job Centre Plus to achieve this. The figures quoted for Bournemouth people claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) are disproportionate as many are coming from outside the area. Because of this, we have a developed local connection policy to support them to return home to receive their treatment.”

The highest percentage claiming ESA due to obesity is in Sevenoaks in Kent and the highest for stress is in South Hams in Devon.

Top five highest places for alcoholic claimants:

1. Bournemouth

2. Edinburgh

3. Glasgow

4. Aberdeen

5. Portsmouth

Top five highest places for drug addicted claimants:

1. Bournemouth

2. Aberdeen


4. Bristol

5. North Somerset