The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been forced to apologise, after a bungling Job Centre official ordered a severely disabled man to attend an interview.
Nick Gaskin, 46, from Leicestershire, has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and cannot walk, talk or even feed himself.
Despite needing round the clock care, Mr Gaskin was asked by letter to attend an appointment at the Loughborough Job Centre on 22 July. The letter stated: “You and your personal advisor will discuss the possibility of going into paid work, training for work, or looking for work in the future.”
Nick’s furious wife, Tracy, contacted the Job Centre office to explain that Nick had been in receipt of disability benefits for 16 years, only to be told that he was still required to attend.
Tracy told the Leicester Mercury: “Nick communicates by blinking for yes and no. He has a good life but it is ludicrous to get a letter like this and to have to attend an appointment.
“When I called the number on the letter the person said if we couldn’t get to the centre perhaps there could be a telephone interview.
“Nick can’t speak, the man obviously hadn’t been listening to me.”
She added: “This is a pointless interview and a waste of everyone’s time and resource. There has got to be a better way. Why can’t we produce written evidence?”
“Nick was, and still is, a very proud man who would give anything to get up out of his chair and provide for his family. Unfortunately MS has stripped him of that.
“In the end we had a laugh about him learning new skills but the very serious side is letters like this going to people, especially the elderly who don’t have support around them.
“It is likely to be very distressing.”
A DWP spokesperson apologised for the error, saying that Nick should not have been told that the interview was mandatory.
“We wanted to give Mr Gaskin the option of attending a voluntary ‘keeping in touch’ meeting, and we have apologised to him for any suggestion this would be a mandatory meeting”.
Loughborough Job Centre is investigating how the error may have been caused.