Victim of 'racist' knife attack has benefits cut
A SCARRED man who claims a racist knife attack has left him unemployable has had his benefits suspended.
Reece Johnson, aged 26, needed nearly 70 stitches when he was slashed on the side of his face while walking with his then five-year-old son.
The father-of-three, from Breightmet, was attacked in May, 2010 near to the entrance of Bobby Heywood Park in Great Lever, and says potential employers are put off by the scar on his cheek and neck.
Now the Department for Work and Pensions has suspended his Jobseeker’s Allowance — which he has claimed intermittently since the attack — because he has not been trying hard enough to find work.
The DWP said people must comply with rules for claims, or risk losing the benefits.
“I’ve been in the local paper and a national paper explaining the problems I am having, but it doesn’t seem to have made a difference,” said Mr Johnson.
“I don’t think what they did is right, especially when it was just before Christmas. All they told me was my search was not up to standards expected.
“They know I am struggling to find work because of what happened to me, and I have told them that I want a job to look after my family.”
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Mr Johnson also said the Job Centre had not been particularly helpful. Every now and then when you sign on they pull you in for a meeting, but these are quite rare,” he said.
“I know I have a responsibility as well to make something happen, but I have made efforts to make people aware of what’s happening to me but the DWP doesn’t seem to take any notice.”
A DWP spokesman said: “It’s only right that people should do everything they can to find work in return for their benefits.
“We make the rules clear to people at the start of their claim and that they risk losing benefits if they don’t play by them.
“Sanctions are used only as a last resort and people in genuine need can apply for hardship payments. If someone disagrees with a decision made on their claim they can appeal.”
Mr Johnson was attacked by a group of 20 men, who he believes targeted him as a white man in revenge for the death of 19-year-old Seffar Khan, who died in the same park three years earlier.
Nobody has been charged with the attack on Mr Johnson.
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