He cannot walk, talk or control his arms. He is fed by a tube. But officials still made him travel 25 miles for a 'fit for work' benefits interview

He cannot walk, talk or control his arms and is fed by a tube – but officials still made Doncaster teenager Aaron Faulkner travel 25 miles for a fitness to work interview.

Thursday, 19th September 2019, 8:22 am
Updated Thursday, 19th September 2019, 8:22 am

Devoted Doncaster mum Joanne Faulkner has spent the last 19 years taking care of her disabled son's every need because Aaron, of Kirk Sandall, suffers of a rare condition called unbalanced chromosome translocation.

It means he is wheelchair-bound, also suffering cerebral palsy and breathing problems. He cannot speak or communicate at all, cannot control his arms, and is fed through a tube in his stomach.

Yet his mum and dad were left flabbergasted when officials from the Department for Work and Pensions insisted he had to travel into Doncaster Jobcentre for a fitness for work interview for Universal Credit.

Lee amd Joanne Faulkner with son Aaron who has had to attend a fit for work interview despite having cerebral palsy and n unbalance chromosome

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Aaron's was born with his condition, and his parents have looked after him ever since. He started attending the Heatherwood Special School for children with conditions like his at the age of three, but left school this summer.

Joanne, applied for universal credit for him at that point.

She said: "Aaron can't do anything for himself and relies on us.

"He finished school in July, and Heatherwood was brilliant with him over the years. But as he was leaving school, we needed to apply for universal credit. You have to ring them up to make an appointment for an identity check and fit for work interview.

Lee amd Joanne Faulkner with son Aaron who has had to attend a fit for work interview despite having cerebral palsy and n unbalance chromosome

"We asked them to come out to us because of Aaron's condition, but we were literally blanked. They didn't even acknowledge our request - they just said they would send us an appointment.

"We actually had to take him from Sheffield, because he was in respite care at the time. He has a special bath at home, and the pipe under it had exploded, flooding his room, so we had to rip everything out and leave it to dry for three weeks.

"The man who we travelled to see for the interview couldn't believe it. He couldn't believe we'd been asked to come out to them for the interview, and said he would put a note on his records so it didn't happen again.

"They could just have looked at his disability records or his Personal Independence Payments records to know he cannot work - or they could just have contacted his GP or one of his specialist doctors. We were not pleased by what happened at all."

Since the appointment, Aaron, aged 19, who has low immunity to illness, has had to spend a week in hospital with pneumonia, but his family say there is no evidence this is due to his Jobcentre appointment.

"We just want to make sure this doesn't happen again to Aaron or anyone else," said Joanne.

A Department for Work and Pensions Spokesman said: “We are very sorry a home visit was not arranged, it should have been.”

“We have apologised to Ms Faulkner and are processing her son’s claim quickly to make sure she and her son have the support they need.”