Former roller shutter fitter, anxious to re-train for self-employment, caught in benefits trap | Huddersfield Examiner | 15 August 2012

August 15, 2012

From the Huddersfield Examiner, 15 August 2012.

OLIVER Schofield worked for 20 years until the effects of ME ruled him medically unfit.

But the Brockholes man has found himself caught up in a benefits system trap.

He and wife Katie would be better off financially on benefits – but their steely resolution to work is, they claim, hampered by the government axe and a lack of knowledge and understanding of conditions like ME, a form of fatigue.

Two-and-a-half years ago Oliver, 37, was deemed medically unfit to continue his job of installing roller shutters.

Oliver said: “I’d had fatigue and problems sleeping and kept going back to the doctors for tests.

“I thought it was a virus I couldn’t shake off and I had blood test after blood test and was diagnosed with ME.

“At first I carried on working, I wanted to work and keep busy, but one of the symptoms of ME is disturbed sleep, which I had, and I was deemed medically unfit to work.”

In 2009 he was given statutory sick pay for six months and was told to sign on for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

He got £91 a week and he went on courses to re-train, which gave him a business idea he’d like to develop.

The government’s New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) is designed to put unemployed people in touch with business mentors, something he says would give him guidance to re-train and become self-employed.

But the Job Centre won’t sign him up for NEA.

Since Oliver was deemed medically unfit to work he has won two tribunals, found he was underscored on his medical, told to sign on for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) when staff know he can’t hold down a job due to disturbed sleep patterns and had his benefits stopped with no prior warning – at least three times.

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