To be honest, I don\’t know whether this is a good idea or not.
Thousands of problem drug users will face losing welfare benefit payments for up to six months if they repeatedly fail to participate in drug treatment programmes under "three strikes and you\’re out" proposals to be announced today.
The move to use the benefits system to encourage drug users to stay in treatment is likely to prove controversial, with some critics warning that cutting benefits could actually fuel crime as those affected steal more to fund their habit.
There will be (as so often when looking at economic incentives) two effects. One is that the threat of losing benefits will increase th number who do stay wih treatment (and hopefully profit from such). There will also be those denied benefits who then steal to fund both their habits and life itself.
The important question, again as so often with matters concering economic incentives, is which effect will prevail: which effect will be stronger on more people? The answer is that we don\’t know, inded, we cannot know until we conduct an experiment. Which we should do, before making these rule changes for everyone.
It might or might not be a good idea: so let\’s find out first shall we?