A woman from Heacham is fighting to get her father the extra support she believes he needs after his Jobseeker’s Allowance was cut off four months ago, leaving him with no money for food.
Julie Hardingham, 35, has said that the expectations put on her 58-year-old father, Robert Gyton, who lives in Ringstead, are unrealistic because he doesn’t have computer access, can no longer afford to run his car and suffered a knee injury that prevents him from walking very far.
She said: “No-one will acknowledge that there has been failings in the way he’s been treated. The only reason he’s been fed for three or four months is because of me and I’m a single parent.
“If he didn’t have me fighting his corner, he wouldn’t know what to do.”
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “When a person claims Jobseeker’s Allowance they sign an agreement confirming they are available for work, and that they’ll do everything they can to find a job.
“Sanctions are only used as a last resort. We make it clear to people from the start of their claim what the rules are, and that they face losing benefits if they don’t abide by them. To avoid that happening we tell people to let us know, as soon as they can, if they have a legitimate reason for not attending meetings or looking for work.”
Mr Gyton’s last job was at Sentry Farms in 2008, and before that he worked as a gardener for Wrights Landscapes.
Mrs Hardingham said: “My father struggles with reading and writing and has very low-intelligence. He doesn’t understand computers and Google very easily, but if you get him set up he is okay.”
His Jobseeker’s Allowance was cut off in July after he failed to meet the agreement he signed, which stated he would be actively searching for work for 30 hours a week.
The agreement was signed before Mr Gyton was forced to stop using his car due to lack of funds and before he had keyhole surgery on his knee. He is now unable to walk the 3.2 miles to the nearest bus stop in order to reach a Job Centre to show he is actively looking for work, and with no internet access, he is only able to look in the newspaper.
His daughter said: “They were quite aware of the situation long before they stopped his benefits. The agreement that has been made is not achieveable and the staff have admitted this.
“They have even given him a new agreement but it still says he has no health problems even though they have a doctor’s note. And they still expect him to get online five times a week.”
She added: “He has never missed an e-Learning session or signing in, even though he has to go all the way to Lynn. He even found an apple-picking job but he couldn’t apply because he has no way of getting to work.”
The spokesman for the DWP said: “We’re committed to helping people find work, and believe that the long-term unemployed should receive extra support, not less, to help them overcome the issues that are stopping them getting a job. The alternative would be to do nothing and confine them to a life on benefits, which wouldn’t be fair to them or the taxpayer.”
The pair have a meeting booked at Job Centre Plus to discuss the case further on October 15.