Man who cannot walk or talk ordered to attend a 'back to work' Jobcentre interview

Nick Gaskin was diagnosed with MS 16 years ago and can only communicate through blinking

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The Independent Online

A man who cannot talk, walk or feed himself has been ordered to attend a ‘back to work’ Jobcentre interview.

Nick Gaskin, 46, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 16 years ago and can only communicate through blinking. His wife,Tracy, says she was shocked to receive a letter from a Loughborough Jobcentre telling him to attend a mandatory meeting.

The letter read: “You and your personal adviser will discuss the possibility of going into paid work, training for work, or looking for work in the future.”

Tracy contacted the job centre to explain the situation but was told that if Nick did not attend then his benefits would be stopped. “I said but he can’t walk, he can’t talk," she told the Leicester Mercury. "He has two carers, plus myself, plus his large wheelchair.

“They said they could organise a telephone interview if getting to the Jobcentre was difficult. Nick can’t speak, [they] obviously hadn’t been listening to me.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions has apologised and says that Mr Gaskin had been sent the wrong letter by accident.

They said there will be an investigation into the incident: “We wanted to give Mr Gaskin the option of attending a voluntary ‘keeping in touch’ meeting and we apologised to him for any suggestion this would be a mandatory meeting.”

Nick Rijke, director of policy and research at the MS Society, said: “This is a really appalling story, and once again shows that the system is simply not fit for purpose.

“We’re glad to hear the DWP is going to be apologising to Mr Gaskin but people should simply not be put into a position like this.

“The individual circumstances of those living with conditions such as multiple sclerosis must be taken into account so they are treated like people, and not just another case to be dealt with.”