THE mother of a man with a debilitating bowel condition has branded the benefits system a “disincentive” to work.
June Senior’s son Chris Carter has Crohn’s disease and wants to work as much as possible.
But Mrs Senior claims the benefits system penalises him for wanting to pay his own way.
Chris, 26, of Netherton, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease three years ago.
His illness means his body is unable to absorb food properly and he struggles to put weight on.
Chris needed emergency surgery to remove 24 inches of bowel and remains too ill to work full-time.
He had been working as an assistant at a local supermarket for 15 hours a week, taking home £320 a month.
But changes in the benefits system meant he was given three options by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
l Quit the job and keep the £440 a month in incapacity benefit;
l Lose your benefits but continue to earn the £320;
l Earn no more than £20 a week and keep your benefits.
Mum-of-two Mrs Senior, 59, of Lindley, said: “It’s just a complete disincentive to work.
“Chris is the sort of person who wants to work but Crohn’s disease is a silent illness and is not recognised as a disability.
“One day you can be fine, the next you’re not.
“Chris hoped to be able to work himself up to full-time but he might be all right for a week then have to be off a week.
“The benefits people wouldn’t let him continue to have his benefits and work 15 hours. If he did that he would be £110 a week worse off and who would agree to that?”
Chris now works at the Co-op in Netherton, just across from his home, but only for three hours a week.
“This week he did the three hours on Sunday so that was him finished for the week,” said Mrs Senior. “What does he do for the rest of the week?”
Chris feels the cold more than most and recently found a helpful food supplement but it costs £62 a tub.
“When he was working 15 hours I saw a real improvement in him,” said Mrs Senior.
“He was eating well, had put on a little weight, had less stress and was loving his job.
“Fortunately his health is quite good now but I don’t want him to become depressed because he’s stuck at home.
“He has an Xbox to pass the time but if you’re moving around your body works better.
“People who want to work should get the money and support to do so.
“We shouldn’t be encouraging people to sit at home doing nothing.”
Chris admitted his plight was getting him down and said: “I am not well enough for full-time work and I still need some kind of benefit to survive.
“They have not given me any incentive to carry on working.
“I’m lucky the store manager has kept me on for three hours a week. Most places would say it’s not worth it.”
A DWP spokesman said: “People on incapacity benefit are allowed to try small amounts of paid work – for a limited period of time – without it affecting their benefit payment.
“This acts as a stepping stone to help people move into a more full-time role and strikes the right balance between helping someone into work and ensuring benefits go to the people who need them the most.”
Working up to 16 hours and earning up to £99.50 a week while on incapacity benefit is allowed – but only for a year.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) replaced incapacity benefit in 2008.
Around 1.5 million people on incapacity benefit across the country are currently being reassessed for ESA to see if they are capable of some form of work.