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Jobless dad-of-four loses benefit after missing meeting by six hours

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: March 01, 2013

By MICHAEL YONG

Concerns:  Garry and Cohen O'Neil

Concerns: Garry and Cohen O'Neil

Comments (35)

JOBLESS dad-of-four Garry O'Neil has been left without enough money for food or rent – after turning up late for a benefits meeting by just six hours.

Mr O'Neil, 43, said his family would now have to find other ways of raising the money after being left more than £1,000 down.

The former full-time electrician, who lost his job in December, applied for jobseeker's allowance last month.

He was told to attend a meeting a the job centre in Cheltenham every other Thursday, at 3.40pm.

But when the appointment was changed to 9am on January 24, he accidently turned up at the usual time instead.

And despite arranging to attend a meeting the next day, Mr O'Neil received a letter last week telling him he will not be able to receive benefits for the next month.

He hit out against the punishment and said it was his wife and children, aged two, six, 10 and 13, who would suffer.

"This is a great blow," he said. "I calculate that this will leave me with a debt of £1,131.

"I cannot afford this. We now have no way of paying the rent or bills and am lost as to how to continue to feed and roof the family.

"I'm lucky I have people to turn to, and am in affordable housing, but can you imagine someone else who is in private accommodation?

"I am not whining about not getting more money, it's just the system will affect other people as well.

"A fine of £1,131 for lateness is just ridiculous. You would not accept that for minor crimes. This debt will affect my kids, my wife and my rent. That is unjust.

"It is entirely disproportionate to being late."

Mr O'Neil receives £111.78 per week in allowance, and said he hoped to be able to raise the money for rent and food.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "It's absolutely right that, when people claim Jobseeker's Allowance, they stick to the contract they make with us. The conditions that go with that ensure people aren't taking advantage of taxpayers' money.

"We take care to ensure people understand what is expected of them and encourage them to take up all the help that is available to them so they can get back to work.

"Sanctions are applied in the same way across the UK and are only used where people have not adhered to their jobseeker obligations. If someone disagrees with a decision made on their claim, they can appeal."

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35 comments

  • mother25  |  March 05 2013, 7:33PM

    so he has worked & paid taxes 4 over 20 year so r u all saying that he should pay taxes 4 others 2 calm but when he calms a small bit back of what he has paid into the system over years he's wrong, well i don't think so. as a mother i would not c any chld go without so u must all b heartless. some of the stuff i ave read on here is a disgrace & i really don't no how u sleep at night. what a very sad world we live in nowaday that u r ready 2 kick a man when he his down. i hope it happens 2 u or some1 u know so people can judge u & not help. the reason y they ave people 2 help them is because they r nice people can u say u will get help if it happened 2 u i wouldn't think so.

    Rate   2
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  • Stuntgirl1  |  March 02 2013, 8:08PM

    Can't his wife get a job to help out? He's at home to watch the children so no excuse!

    Rate   4
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  • Saffy  |  March 02 2013, 7:26PM

    I don't know why people bother going to the echo with stories like this... For every sympathetic comment he will get it will be outweighed by 5 unsympathetic ones.his best bet is to apply for one sort of hardship grant,and make sure he keeps his appointments...avoiding his poor children missing out again.

    Rate   2
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  • supermum99  |  March 02 2013, 5:47PM

    Appointments are given for a reason, so forgive me for not having any sympathy.

    Rate   6
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  • ladylalala  |  March 02 2013, 9:26AM

    no, they are spending less money .... less people are getting electrical work done

    Rate   6
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  • Wassisname  |  March 02 2013, 7:58AM

    Ladylala. Have people stopped using electricity then?

    Rate   -5
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  • ladylalala  |  March 02 2013, 1:33AM

    all these people that are surprised he cannot find work.... got any idea what is going on with the job market t the moment? not really have you? nope..........

    Rate   5
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  • ladylalala  |  March 02 2013, 1:29AM

    The £1,000 ish figure probably includes his housing benefit payments which would also have stopped if his job seakers allowance has been stopped....so, it probably would be around the £1k mark.

    Rate   2
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  • gettowork  |  March 01 2013, 8:43PM

    People do not like facts Tishwash obviously! Although you are very correct I must watch my grammar & abbreviation.... Well thats my 55 hour week at work complete, absolutely shattered but now sat in my luxury house all warm with a bucket load of ice cold Peronis, M & S Steak bliss! All because I got of my A***e and went to work Simples..

    Rate   2
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  • tishwash  |  March 01 2013, 8:08PM

    I love the down arrow for a fact ?

    Rate   -3
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