Friday, 4 September 2015

Politics: Man with leukaemia told he must work

A man with leukaemia who doctors say is too sick to work has been told by the Job Centre that he is not doing enough to find a job.

Michael Ward, 59, of Southowram, says he has been told by Job Centre officials that he is not sick enough to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and is not entitled to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) because he is not actively seeking work.

Michael Ward has chronic illness who doctor says is too sick to work, but Job Centre staff disagree. With local MP Holly Lynch.
Michael Ward has chronic illness who doctor says is too sick to work, but Job Centre staff disagree. With local MP Holly Lynch.
Mr Ward has lived with chronic leukaemia for 18 months and was diagnosed with severe arthritis in his left knee in 2012.

“I’m getting fed up of the Job Centre rejecting me all the time because of what I’ve got,” he said. “I can’t cope with getting a job and they say I’m fit for work - which I’m not.”

“I keep trying to explain to them, but it keeps going over their heads - they’re trying to push me into warehouse work, but that’s something I can’t do,” he said.

“I feel really shocked and down - it’s getting to the ridiculous now. It’s taking a lot out of me mentally - there are a lot of things that I used to do that I can’t do anymore.”

Mr Ward said was well he worked in warehouses, but his condition now makes physical work impossible.

“I’m afraid that with the pressures they’re putting on me the leukaemia will flair up, and when it does that’s not something an employer’s going to like,” he said.

Halifax MP Holly Lynch has taken up Mr Ward’s case and has vowed to highlight the issue in Parliament.

Ms Lynch said: “The Job Centre are telling me that Mr Ward is falling between two different benefits, but is eligible for neither.

“The Government needs to take a more compassionate approach - the DWP are making a real mess of this.”

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveal that 90 people a month died between 2011 and 2014 shortly after being declared “fit for work”.

The official DWP statistics revealed that during the period December 2011 and February 2014 2,380 people died after their claim for Employment and support Allowance (ESA) ended because a work capability assessment found they were found fit for work.

Halifax MP Holly Lynch said: “Job Centre staff are following the procedures in place, but these procedures need to change, especially with difficult and complex cases.

“These figures have shown that thousands of people have died shortly after being declared fit for work - the Government has got this completely wrong.”

The DWP said it could not comment on Mr Ward’s case without his National Insurance number.

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