An unemployed teacher has urged others not to give up the fight if they have their benefits stopped unreasonably.
David Taws, of North Shields, had to use food parcels over the Christmas period after his jobseeker benefits were stopped by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
The 49-year-old received a letter two days before Christmas telling him he had been sanctioned and his benefits stopped for a ‘breach of contract’.
But Mr Taws, who retrained as a teacher after a career in IT with BT, took the DWP to a tribunal and last week the judge ruled in his favour after no one from the DWP attended.
Speaking to the News Guardian, he said: “I went into the tribunal ready for a fight but the judge told me straight away I had won my case.
“My benefits will be backdated but I received a letter this week from the DWP saying they are applying for a statement of reasons, so are delaying paying out.
“I’ve retrained as a teacher, I volunteer in the community as a teacher, it’s not as if I’m sitting around doing nothing.
“I’ve seen people get sanctioned before, it’s just the DWP’s way of fiddling the figures to show unemployment is going down.
“I want people to know they can challenge the decision. I didn’t give up the fight, got it to a tribunal and won.”
Mr Taws said he was sanctioned as he forgot to turn up to an appointment but attended his local job centre within the five days ‘leniency’ period where he was handed a sheet of local food banks.
“Three weeks of vouchers for food banks wasn’t going to help me pay my bills,” he said.
“When I got my food parcel I felt thankful for it but ashamed that I needed it.
“I then started to work on appealing the decision but I was starting to suffer from stress and anxiety.
“I knew I hadn’t done anything illegal. I had done all the other courses and requirements and that made me more determined to get my money back.”
Mr Taws added: “This isn’t just for me, what I really want is to show others they can fight back.
“I’ve been out of work for three years.
“I’m going to be 50 this year. When you get to a certain age in this country you see your employment chances go down the drain, that’s why I retrained, I’ve been trying to keep myself going.”