Builder left crippled after operation has benefits stopped because wife works

A BUILDER who was left crippled following an operation on his spine has had his disability benefits stopped – because his wife works.

Timothy Howle, who spent 30 years as a self-employed bricklayer, has not been able to work following an operation on his spine in 2010.

  1. Timothy Howle and his wife Susan

    ANGER: Timothy Howle and his wife Susan. Picture: Wesley Webster

The 63-year-old, who is in constant pain and can’t walk without the aid of crutches, accepted the offer of an automatic car instead of disability living allowance, so he could retain some independence.

And up until April 30, Mr Howle, of Sorrento Grove, Meir Hay, was getting £94 each week in employment support allowance.

But that benefit has now been stopped because his wife Susan works full-time at Portmeirion as an enamel tester, bringing home £227 a week, which is now the couple’s sole income.

Mrs Howle, aged 51, said: “Our outgoing bills are £200 a week, before we have bought any food.

“We are really struggling. We have got a mortgage to pay. We are ordinary working-class people. Tim has worked all his life, up until the operation.

“It is as if we are being punished because I work.”

Mr Howle said since the operation he was numb from the waist down on his left side.

He added: I’ve got peripheral neuropathy in my left foot, which has left me with no strength in it and that has now crept into my right foot.

“The pain is in the nerves, it’s a bit like being an amputee. I’m constantly in pain. It gets that bad that I suffer from anxiety attacks. I can only be on my legs for so long before I have to get in a wheelchair. It’s like having a prison sentence.

“I worked in a garage, then at Michelin, before working for myself as a bricklayer for 30 years. In the past few years work dried up so I worked for agencies.”

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) now expects Mr Howle to find a job.

A spokesman said Government changes, which came into effect at the start of this month, mean that contribution-based Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is only available to people who could be expected to look for work for a maximum of 12 months.

After that period, people can claim income-related ESA if their partner worked for less than 24 hours a week.

The DWP spokesman added: “The welfare system must support those with the most need – those who are too sick or disabled to work and those who do not have any other means of financial support.

“ESA for people who could be expected to get back into work, was never intended to be a long-term benefit.

“The time limit of one year strikes the best balance between recognising that some people need extra help to enter the workplace and that the taxpayer cannot afford to support people indefinitely who could return to employment.”

Mr and Mrs Howle, who have both been married previously and have one son together and another four children between them, are appealing against the DWP decision to take away their benefits and a hearing will be held later this month.

The Staffordshire Sentinel

Comments
  • jeffrey davies May 28, 2012 at 8:25 am

    ESA for people who could be expected to get back into work, was never intended to be a long-term benefit. well this lot would say that when this man has worked all his life and now gets benefit for 1yr when can we the working people get our benefits without having to figh this most corrupt goverment ever its beyond belief whot they do to the working man.while they screw us ever more jeff3

  • DAVID A SHAW May 28, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Another example of new legislation with no other intention than to shaft the ordinary working man/ woman. And since when did the DWP give a damn about the taxpayer ? They only care about protecting the wealth so that the rich can live without paying tax and everyone else carries the burden.

  • paul gorgon May 28, 2012 at 8:33 am

    i know how he feels , i had the same problem with my esa coming to a end , got citizens advise to fill out my forms and have a great doctor , was surprised i didnt have to attend a medical , now in the support group , fought for over a year for dla and done my case myself and won at tribunial , alot of hard work but worth it , keep on fighting for what your intitled to , all the best

  • Nicola Jones May 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

    The other problem with this legislation is for single people who find a partner, that partner then is suddenly responsible for your support (assuming you choose to live together). It’s hard enough finding a partner when one is disabled, but this makes it impossible!! Maybe that is the aim, to stop us breeding…..

  • Celia May 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    and they want employers to be able to sack us on whim too!

  • You must be logged in to comment. Log in
%d bloggers like this: