Nick Gaskin, who has MS and can only communicate through blinking, was told to come to Loughborough jobcentre or his benefits would be stopped.
The Department for Work and Pensions has been accused of “humiliating” a man who cannot walk, talk or feed himself by repeatedly asking him to attend a jobcentre interview or his benefits would be stopped.
Nick Gaskin, from Quorn in Leicestershire, was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) 16 years ago. He needs round-the-clock care and can only communicate through blinking.
Last month Gaskin received a letter from the jobcentre in Loughborough telling him to attend an appointment on 22 July. It read: “You and your personal adviser will discuss the possibility of going into paid work, training for work, or looking for work in the future.”
Gaskin’s wife, Tracy, said she was so shocked by the letter she laughed it off at first. “But once I read through all the things they were going to do, like offer Nick training, I thought this is a joke, it’s ridiculous.
“Then I got quite cross, they didn’t even look into the person they were contacting. They didn’t look into his personal life or situation,” she said.
She called the jobcentre to explain the situation but was told if her husband did not attend the interview his benefits would be stopped. “I said but he can’t walk, he can’t talk. He has two carers, plus myself, plus his large wheelchair. And they said they could organise a telephone interview if getting to the jobcentre was difficult. They just weren’t listening to me.”
She added that it was “humiliating” to ask a man who cannot work to go into a jobcentre. “Nick’s quite fortunate, he’s got a great group of carers. He knows he can trust me and I can fight his corner for him.
“But there are people out there who haven’t got that or may be newly diagnosed. If this had happened last year – I’m in remission for cancer – that probably would have tipped us both over the edge.
“Nick never stood in a queue and said at the age of 29 can you give me MS because I think it will be really funny. He was stripped of his life, and we just have to make the most of what we can do now. It’s hard enough to be in that situation without the Department for Work and Pensions doing something like this to you. The jobcentre needs to look at a person rather than just their national insurance number.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Claimants in the support group of ESA are not required to attend mandatory meetings. We will be contacting Mr Gaskin to apologise for the misunderstanding.”
The above article is written by Nadia Khomami for The Guardian. Find the original here.