A DISABLED man was forced to beg after his benefits were stopped because he went on holiday.

Paul Exley said he was left with just £30 a week in supermarket vouchers to live on after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) sanctioned him while he was away from his home in Queen’s Park, Brighton.

The 52-year-old suffers from a terminal illness and was medically retired from work by the DWP more than 20 years ago.

Mr Exley has suffered two heart attacks and his health conditions leaving him needing to take 14 tablets a day.

He saved up money to go to Turkey with a friend during the off-season in October and was told by the DWP he did not need to inform it that he was away for 28 days.

But when he returned, he was told he had missed an assessment in Lewes – and his benefits were stopped in December.

It left him with just £30 per week until the end of January, when the DWP told him his benefits would be reinstated.

But the department insists it is committed to helping disabled people get the help they are entitled to.

Mr Exley said: “I was at my wits end and felt like I was drowning.

“The way they treat you is appalling and you constantly face a stern brick wall.


“I was absolutely gutted, I had got no money at all.

“I couldn’t pay my bills. I got just £30 per week from the council discretionary fund, and I’ve never had to do this.

“I’ve been ill for many years and on the same benefit.

“I have never had to go through this before.

“They are quite bullying on the phone.

“There is no personality, just a robot.

“I don’t like to ask for help, it is not in my nature, but I had to beg the council.”

Mr Exley receives personal independence payments worth £340 per month, which is used to pay for his medication and for his care at home.

He said: “I had a very frugal holiday, flying the cheapest way and staying in Airbnb apartments.

“I go with a friend which makes this much cheaper.

“I save a little money every month to be able to have this one holiday a year, and it is always at the end of season when the costs are very low.

“This really does help my body to recuperate from a gruelling year.”

The DWP has faced criticism over benefit sanctions, where claimants can have payments stopped for reasons including missing appointments or failing to look for work.

Experiences of claimants were revealed in the Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake, which depicts the apparent harshness of benefit sanctions.

In response to Mr Exley’s case, the DWP said: “After receiving supporting evidence, we have reviewed Mr Exley’s benefits claim and have reinstated his payments.

“We are committed to ensuring that disabled people get all the support they are entitled to.

“Assessments are an integral part of that, and it’s important people make us aware of anything that affects their availability.”