'I have brain injury and epilepsy but DWP sanctioned my Universal Credit to zero'

'I have brain injury and epilepsy but DWP sanctioned my Universal Credit to zero' <i>(Image: Colin Mearns)</i>
'I have brain injury and epilepsy but DWP sanctioned my Universal Credit to zero' (Image: Colin Mearns)

A man with epilepsy and a brain injury was sanctioned by the DWP and his Universal Credit was cut to zero.

Gerry Carlin was surprised when he went to the bank to find he had no money paid in.

When he questioned the lack of funds with the Jobcentre, he was told he had missed an appointment with a work coach and was being sanctioned.

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The 57-year-old, from Glasgow, said he has epilepsy and a traumatic brain injury as a result of seizures and has a ‘fit note’ to say he is not fit for work.

The DWP, however, said his note was out of date and cut his money.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

He told the Glasgow Times he was sanctioned for three months between September and November last year.

For the first month his Universal Credit, normally £324 per month was, he said, cut to zero.

The following month he was given a payment of £67 and the next month he received £125.

Mr Carlin, who said he also suffers from memory loss due to his condition, said: “I went to collect money and there was nothing there.

“They told me I missed a work coach appointment. And was getting a three-month sanction.

“I have a fit note, which is supposed to cover me for appointments but they said it doesn’t cover work coach appointments.

“My fit note says I have a traumatic brain injury, suffer epileptic seizures and have COPD.”

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He said he can’t work with his conditions and questioned the purpose of the fit note if it doesn’t cover work coach appointments, which are designed to help people back to work.

The cut to his benefit, he said, has put him deeper into financial difficulties which will take him time to recover from.

He added: “This has put me into debt. I had to use a food bank.”

Mr Carlin also gets PIP (Personal Independence Payment) of £257 per month, which was not subject to the sanction.

In September that was all he had to live on.

The DWP said that Mr Carlin was visited at home and was deemed fit to attend jobcentre appointments.

The Government department said that his medical certificate was out of date.

Mr Carlin asked for the sanction to be re-considered but it was decided the sanction was correctly applied.

His benefit was reinstated after he attended a meeting in November and after losing more than £500 was given a hardship payment of £144.

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A spokesperson for the DWP said: “Mr Carlin was sanctioned after failing to attend a Claimant Commitment review appointment, and when Mr Carlin asked for the decision to be reconsidered it was found the sanction was correctly applied.

“Sanctions can often quickly be resolved by re-engaging with the Jobcentre and attending the next appointment, and Mr Carlin’s sanction was lifted in November 2022 after he attended a Work Search Review.

“People are only sanctioned if they fail, without good reason, to meet the conditions they agree, and emphasis is placed on protecting vulnerable claimants.”

DWP said the certificate expired in May and Mr Carlin was told he needed a new one and, in the meantime, he was required to attend work search reviews.