yes. but there is also a spring outside the rim at the end of the brake cable. the lead ball at the end of the cable sits in the brake lever and the spring pushes the lever back. the spring also pushes against the cup that the cable casing fits in. as the lining wears off the pads, the spring squeezes more and more, til it's collapsed, and can't squeeze and more. the lever can't move far enough for the pads to make contact with the drum.
of course, i am only assuming that this could be his problem, because it's happened to me numerous times. chopping this spring is only a temporary fix, meant to supply braking until new pads can be obtained.