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We're not all scr oungers; Your shout.

A COUPLE of years ago Sir Michael Caine posed the insulting question of why he - a taxpayer - should have to work to support three million "lazy b*****ds" on the dole.

Iain Duncan Smith apparently subscribes to the same misguided theory that everyone on benefits is a bone-idle scrounger. Earlier this year I was signing sick with a painful frozen shoulder. As I was also unemployed I was asked by Jobcentre Plus to attend a Pathways To Work interview. This concerned finding me a position despite my incapacity. Apart from the letter confirming the interview, I was sent another reminding me of the appointment. On top of that I received another reminder by phone.

What's the annual cost to the state when benefit claimants are being contacted three times over such interviews? The day before my appointment, however, my beautiful wife, Sue, died suddenly.

The following day Jobcentre Plus rang to ask why I hadn't attended the interview. I explained my circumstances and without a word of condolence the guy I spoke with said he'd arrange another appointment.

Two days later I received a letter to that effect. But the thought that a 59-year-old recently bereaved man with a serious shoulder complaint might make a suitable employee should have been as ludicrous to Jobcentre Plus as it was to me.

The one thing my late parents instilled in me is a sense of pride. I don't enjoy being out of work and I'm actively seeking employment.

Iain Duncan Smith's purging of scroungers who abuse the system is laudable. But for many distressed people, desperate to find employment, being forced to work in the community for just over pounds 1 an hour will be hugely demeaning.

MICK BIDEWELL, Tudor Walk, Kingston Park, via e-mail
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 16, 2010
Words:293
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