A Derry man says he feels “humiliated and cast aside” after being told by job centre staff that he was unable to apply for a job because of being in receipt of pension credit.
The Galliagh man, who didn’t wish to be named, said he feels he’s been discriminated against by his age.
He told the Sunday Journal how he had been deemed ‘fit to work’ during a recent government assessment and had expressed an interest in a position under the ‘Steps to Work’ 50+ programme, an initiative aimed at getting unemployed people aged fifty and over back to work.
“The job I wanted to go for was only a six month contract, and I wanted to come off pension credit and go for it because the pension credit is so little anyway. All I wanted to do was earn a few pounds, and get out there and work. I worked all my life until I was made redundant, then I was unable to work due to a heart attack but now I really want to go for a job and they won’t let me.
“I’m very disappointed with the whole thing, it’s really left me feeling down. I’ve been made to feel as if I’m too old and useless, and that’s not the case at all. I feel totally let down by the system.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Education and Learning who run the ‘Steps to Work’ 50+ programme said there was “no upper age limit” for people who want to apply.
However the Galliagh says the government are contradicting themselves.
“If anybody in the 60+ bracket goes for this job, and is in receipt of pension credit, they’ll be turned down, just like me. That doesn’t seem fair.”
Jimmy Doherty, Advice Officer with the Galliagh Women’s Group said: “I would call on the Department of Work and Pensions to clarify their position. At a time like this when people are finding it difficult to survive on benefits, I fail to understand why this government scheme seems to be excluding people.
“The most ironic thing around this man’s situation is that in September he was examined for the purposes of migrating from Incapacity Benefit. He was deemed fit for work. It seems that the government is using double standards as and when it suits them,” Mr. Doherty added.