Stevenage man dying from cancer hounded to attend job interviews

A WIDOWER with terminal bowel cancer claims he is being harassed by Jobcentre Plus to attend interviews, despite the fact he already has employment but is too sick to work. James Brown, of Harrow Court in Stevenage, is a scaffolder who has been off work s

A WIDOWER with terminal bowel cancer claims he is being harassed by Jobcentre Plus to attend interviews, despite the fact he already has employment but is too sick to work.

James Brown, of Harrow Court in Stevenage, is a scaffolder who has been off work since the end of July and is claiming Employment and Support Allowance amounting to �128 a fortnight.

Mr Brown - who has just finished a course of radiotherapy, has undergone a major operation to have a colostomy bag fitted, and is due to start chemotherapy in November - says he is constantly being pushed to attend job interviews.

"The way I have been treated is absolutely dreadful," said the 54-year-old. "I have never ever asked the state for any help before, and have always been self-sufficient and independent. I have now found myself on my knees and I can't believe the Jobcentre's attitude."


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Mr Brown, who has lived alone since his wife died in March this year, said he became so fed up with the phone calls and letters insisting he attend a job interview that he finally caved in.

"I went for a job placement interview last week, to see what I'm good at," he explained. Mr Brown said he walked from his home to Stevenage town centre only to be told the interview had been postponed. "No one tried to ring me," he insisted. "I had to walk over a mile, because I can't afford to get a bus, and that's a day's work for me at the moment. I was in so much pain."

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He said Jobcentre Plus is fully aware he has terminal cancer, but that "these people are completely unreceptive to it." He continued: "If you can get one foot out of bed you have to go to interviews. They are going to be killing people at this rate. It's unbelievable."

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "This has clearly been a mistake on our part and we are looking into what happened. We sincerely regret any upset caused and have updated our records to ensure that Mr Brown is not invited to any further interviews.

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