Phil Brehaut has Parkinson’s. Threatening to cut his benefits won’t help him back to work

‘How long are you likely to have Parkinson’s?’ asked the woman assessing his claim. No wonder he is scared for his future

Until five years ago, Phil Brehaut was healthy and earning a decent wage working in the warehouse at his local Morrisons in Stockport. But in the spring of 2011, the 57-year-old was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and found himself in a position that any of us could: physically unable to work. With bills still coming in, he applied for sickness benefits.

It gives an insight into how successful the Conservatives’ benefit-shaming has become that, as he describes his assessment, Brehaut – who has excruciating pain in his legs and can’t keep his balance – is concerned to assure me he has “never signed on before” and has worked since he was 15.

“It was very daunting, like being in court,” he says. “The lady on the panel actually asked me, ‘How long are you likely to have Parkinson’s?’” He pauses. “The person next to her quickly whispered in her ear … You would think they’d know a little bit about it.”

Brehaut was granted employment and support allowance (ESA) but put in the “work-related activity group”, or Wrag. This second-tier ESA group receives lower benefits than the “support group” and requires disabled claimants to undertake “work-related activities” or risk being sanctioned and left to get by on £67.50 a week.

In order to receive his money, his local jobcentre told him, he would have to bring them a weekly “sick note” – leaving Brehaut to visit his GP every Monday and hand-deliver the note to a DWP adviser by 10.30am. This went on every week for nine months.

“It was awful,” he says. “Some days I couldn’t get up – because mornings are tough for me – but I had to or I wouldn’t have any money.”

The jobcentre “did nothing” to help, he says.

“They made it very clear that if they found what [they thought was] a suitable job, they’d have stopped my benefits. They asked what sort of work I could do but I can’t do anything physical because of my tremors … I can’t hold the wardrobe handles to get my clothes out in the morning.”

That image might be one for George Osborne to pause on as he talks of cutting sickness benefits as an “incentive” for people such as Brehaut to get a job.

read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/04/sickness-benefit-cuts-incentive-work-parkinsons-disease?CMP=fb_gu

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One thought on “Phil Brehaut has Parkinson’s. Threatening to cut his benefits won’t help him back to work

  1. It is worse than anyone can imagine, i suffered sanctions for 3 years leaving me to live on £28 a wk ESA & £20.50 a week child benefit from 2012 to 2015,& 2 years prior(2010 to 2012),i was not recieving payment of my ESA at all even though i had been successful with my claim i was made to fill out claim forms so many times i lost count i tried everything to have the problem realised & spoke with so many people with dwp & citizens advise,even my local MP, each time i was lead to believe the problem was resolved but when i went to make a withdrawal nothing had been paid in,i felt i had had somekind of mental break down as it continued for 2 very long hard 2 years i became so isolated & the debts that mounted because of it, then i had my ex partner accuse me of stopping him to have contact with our son which meant it was a court issue & i went to see a solicitor & had to apply for legal aid & this was when imformation of benefits recieved was needed & it was said over the phone i was owed 2 yrs payment but they were not sure of reason but from what they could make out as nothing was clear on the system but they assumed it was a problem of not having my account details,my solicitor challenged that reason as my child benefit had been paid into my account through out those 2 years the account was the same that payments had previously been paid into & why was i never sent 1 letter asking for account information at all during 2 yrs, i was constantly attending local job centre & on the phone sending emails begging in despair & was getting nowhere, then a couple of days later from the call in my solicitors i recieved payment without me giving account details as they hadnt asked for them & was only paid for 1 of the 2 years no apology was given or any letter to explain why this had happened to me & i had to contact them to ask about reason to why i was not paid for the 1st year of hell they put me through & apparently i hadnt made any claim for benefit from dec 2010 to aug 2011 nor had i made any appeal to any claim id been refused!!! then 3 years of sanctions so debt i had paid with the payment recieved was not enough to clear it all its such a impossible task i am paying three lots of council tax one being to baliffs who add there fees onto the debt too which was all done with no warning to me of even gone to court & only knew it had when baliffs knocked on my door the problems have been massive & destroyed the close relationship with my son who has just turned 15 at the end of december, having every request he asked for the answer being no sorry every time & seeing everyone around you planning trips having new clothes or simply going fora weekly shop to the super market my son was beginning to believe i was being mean & lying as nobody else was having the same struggle & thats so hard to deal with & i have no help but will be left to struggle with the debt that mounted through no fault of my own, water being a huge debt that is paid through dwp directly to them at £11.90 a wk as i have recently recieved letter to say deductions are being made & who to but theres no total owed or how long the deductions will will end.then the how your benefit is worked out. saying we have used the tax years ending Apr 2009 to Apr 2010 to assess your claim but i cant be given an explanation from anyone as to why , it is 2016. i could write a book of all the problems they have caused me to suffer only it would be too painful to have it made fictional by readers that may assume any of it exaggerated as i have had people think i must of been lying as to how long i had not been paid but no one can say they havnt noticed the toll its taken on my health mentally & physically. so i will end my rant here my apologies for being so long ,off track etc, but its the result of these assessments & what torment is done with threats of sanctions & what comes if that happens just more debt ,death & more homelessness animals are treated better than humans now , fact. regards A.Hook.

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