Fred Hazle reached the end of his tether so took his son James to Downing Street to tell David Cameron: “If my son can work, YOU give him a job”
A defiant dad took an emotional stand yesterday over the Government’s “bullying” calls for his severely disabled son to prove he cannot work.
Bus driver Fred Hazle, 49, reached the end of his tether so took his blind lad James, 19, to Downing Street to tell David Cameron: “If my son can work, YOU give him a job.”
The father and son made the journey after receiving a barrage of demanding letters from the Jobcentre – including three in four days – as part of the Government’s “fit to work” scheme.
The letters threaten that James’s £71.95 a week in benefits will be stopped unless there is evidence that he cannot hold down a job.
James needs round-the-clock care and has the mental age of a five-year-old. He has severe learning difficulties, epilepsy and autism.
The demands about losing his benefits have been sent despite James’s doctor already telling officials the teenager can’t work and his condition will never improve.
Fred pleaded yesterday to see the Prime Minister or Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
But the battling dad was turned away.
He said: “If they say James can work, they can give him a job. Let’s see them take him on in one of their departments.
“I wanted them to see him and tell me he can work but they wouldn’t. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth but it’s not about the money, we can take care of him.
“It’s the fact they are treating him like a second-class citizen because he is disabled.
“He got allowances and benefits when he was a kid but now he’s an adult they come on all threatening even though they’ve got the paperwork.
“It’s disgusting bullying and intimidation on someone who can’t defend himself. I’ve fought the system for my boy for 19 years and I’m not putting up with it any more.”
At the gates to Downing Street, Fred and James were informed they had to make an appointment and wait three months just to hand a letter in.
They were told they could be arrested if they caused a nuisance.
They headed for Parliament. In its lobby, which is open to every citizen, Fred asked to speak to Mr Duncan Smith, but was told the minister would not see them as they are not his constituents.
The dad and son were then asked to leave.
Fred feels his lad is being victimised despite the family doing their best to ensure they jumped through the Government’s hoops.
As James neared the end of his education at a blind school in September, Fred and wife Jacqueline put all the paperwork in place for him to receive Employment Support Allowance when he finished.
To prove the teenager’s eligibility, his GP signed him off indefinitely from the fit to work programme.
In early July, the payments began but within a fortnight, letters began arriving on the family’s doormat in Dagenham, East London, saying the funding would be stopped if they did not provide further proof of James’s disability.
A flood of warnings then arrived on August 5, 8 and 9 from the Jobcentre Plus head office in Glasgow.
Despite numerous calls to the Jobcentre hotline explaining the situation, the letters kept coming.
Fred says that after yet another demand, he eventually took James – who was born without optic nerves – to their local Jobcentre to prove his point.
The woman behind the counter burst into tears when she saw James, said Fred.
The dad added: “The GP told the DWP that James’ condition will never get better. It will only get worse.
“The Jobcentre said they want more proof than that so I took him down there.
“The assistant was so shocked she cried. She rang head office to say there was no job he could do – only to be told she wasn’t medically qualified to make an assessment.
“The DWP haven’t sent anyone to see us or told James to go for an assessment anywhere. They’ve had no contact with the boy but they are constantly on at me and his mum. It keeps us up at night with worry.
“All they need to do is sit down with us and meet him. But they hide behind threatening letters instead.
“Then I go to see them and no one will come out. I’m willing to do what needs to be done. I’d get myself arrested just to be noticed but what good will that do my son?
“We don’t have a voice. No one in the Government cares about us little people.”
A DWP spokesman said nothing more could be done without more “evidence”.
The spokesman added: “We’re committed to helping people who are capable of work get off benefits and into paid employment, while giving unconditional support to those who need it.
“A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken after a thorough assessment and after consideration of all available supporting medical evidence.
“We’re still waiting for that in Mr Hazle’s case, but have extended the deadline for him to send us his form because of his condition.”
The DWP said the percentage of people with mental health conditions who go into the support group for ESA has more than tripled since 2010.
The numbers receiving ESA is at its highest level ever with 2.4 million claimants.
Check out all the latest News, Sport & Celeb gossip at Mirror.co.uk http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/james-hazle-blind-severely-disabled-2711526#ixzz2kGfimBo4
Follow us: @DailyMirror on Twitter | DailyMirror on Facebook
- Father tells agency to give his disabled son a job if they think he can work (examiner.com)
- Father Takes Son With Mental Age 5 To No 10 To Tell PM ‘If He Can Work, You Give Him A Job’ (samedifference1.com)