A man desperate to get back into work has blasted the benefits system after his money was docked when he admitted that he helped his dyslexic brother with his reading.
Michael Droushiotis from Mansfield Woodhouse was left gobsmacked after his Job Seekers’ Allowance and his housing benefit was slashed to virtually nothing after telling the JobCentre about him assisting his sibling.
Receiving around £240 a fortnight, his last payment was just £18, and feared he would be left homeless if the situation had not been rectified.
It was during a meeting at the JobCentre in Mansfield that he told them he had offered to help his brother understand contracts for a recruiting business he had set up, something that he did as a favour, and was not paid for.
The 30-year-old, who lives in a flat on Gardiners Court, explained: “They asked me if I’d been looking for work, which I have been, and asked me if I was doing anything else, so I told them I was helping my brother to read.
“I wasn’t going to charge him and asked if there was a problem. They said ‘no’ and that I just needed to fill out a form but said it wouldn’t affect my claim.
“Then my benefits didn’t arrive and I got a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions saying they were cancelling my claim.
“I was only helping my brother read, but they said that it’s not a charity. I was not told that.
“I’m furious, everybody who I have spoken to can’t believe it, even some of the people I’ve spoken to in the JobCentre have said it was not right.”
Michael had lost his job at a pub in July, and has been busy sending out applications for scores of positions and had several interviews.
But with his benefits being withheld, he is uncertain how long he can survive on no money, and has even fallen out with his brother after telling him he can longer help him.
“It’s the first time I’ve been unemployed in 11 years,” he added.
“It didn’t stop me applying for work, but I couldn’t survive on £18, it’s ridiculous.
Michael says he was having to survive on the generosity of his friends and an understanding landlady.
Michael even had the backing of Mansfield MP, Sir Alan Meale, who wrote to him to offer support.
He has since received the money owed to him but is warning others who may have fallen into the same trap.
“There will be others out there who this has happened to,” he added.
Having contacted the Department for Work and Pensions, Chad was told there had been a ‘misunderstanding’ when Mr Droushiotis had filled in the necessary forms during an appointment at the JobCentre.
It confirmed it had since spoken to him and the situation had been rectified.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions added: “After being provided with new information, JobCentre Plus has carried out a thorough investigation.
“Mr Droushiotis has been contacted to tell him that his benefit has been reinstated and that arrears owed, will be paid. “