‘CHRISTMAS is cancelled’ for a disabled man who was left penniless after slipping through a benefits net.
The 57-year-old man from Gloucester was deemed fit to work – but was then refused jobseekers allowance because he is disabled.
For six weeks he was left with no income.
“Christmas in our house is cancelled,” said the man, who lives with his wife and disabled daughter in Tredworth.
For the past 12 years he has received incapacity benefit, as he suffers from a degenerative spinal condition.
He cannot sit in an ordinary chair, is in constant pain and has limited mobility.
Government benefit changes meant he was assessed for the new Employment and Support Allowance in October. But on October 29 his £124 a week payments were stopped because he was assessed as ‘fit to work’ and told to claim Jobseekers Allowance.
“But when I went to the Jobcentre, the man there looked at me and said ‘I can see you’re clearly not fit to work’ and wouldn’t allow me to claim,” he said. “What was I supposed to do?”
He’s been forced to rely on friends and family for seven weeks, visit Gloucester’s Food Bank, and he said: “Christmas is cancelled. It’s very stressful. It’s a terrible thing to be left with no money.”
Gloucester Law Centre came to the family’s aid, and have helped his wife to claim increased Carer’s Allowance, because the couple look after their disabled daughter. But other people in the same position may not have that option. The man still has no income of his own.
“I have disappeared from the statistics,” he said.
Barbara Moran at Gloucester Law Centre, said changes in October mean appeals will take longer. “This is an example of what we feared. To go without money for six or seven weeks causes serious hardship,” she said.
They fear that his case is just the first of a large number of people left with no income.
A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “It is important that we don’t simply write people off. There is strong evidence that working can be beneficial for many people who have a health condition.
“But we also want to ensure those who need it get the right support, which is why a decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence provided by the claimant.
“Anyone can appeal against a decision, before the appeal is heard we review all decisions, taking into account further information provided.”