An unemployed man with severe learning difficulties who relies on foodbanks and spends days without electricity because of cuts to his benefits has been revealed as the real-life Daniel Blake following the film’s release at cinemas.
Sean Green, 49, says he has to rely on hot meals cooked by his neighbour in order to survive after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) cut his Jobseeker’s Allowance. Friends have said he is being treated unfairly by the DWP because his learning difficulties mean he is unable to complete mandatory courses which has resulted in cuts to his benefits.
He said: “About eight months ago I was asked to do this course and that’s when all the problems started.
“They force you onto these courses to keep your money. I couldn’t do it because it was on computer and I’ve no skills but they didn’t listen and weren’t helping me.
”I got fed up with it, stopped going and I got my money sanctioned for not attending. They just keep putting me on sanctions and it’s getting ridiculous. l just can’t carry on, it’s getting too much.”
I, Daniel Blake has caused a public outcry over how we approach poverty as a nation, following the life of an ex-carpenter struck off work because of a heart condition. Told by the doctors that he is unfit to work only to be told by the authorities that he didn’t have the “points” to qualify for Employment and Support Allowance, Blake is faced with working against the advice of his medical specialists – he risks sudden death from his heart condition – or not working without social security benefits.
Loach’s hard-hitting story seems devastatingly accurate placed against the life of Sean Green. His neighbour Kevin Snalam, 68, who has been helping Sean get enough to eat, said: “He’s not fit for work, you realise that as soon as you see him. I’ve been trying to get that over to the people in charge who aren’t helping him.
“He just spends all day in the bedroom, he doesn’t go out as often as he should. He’s genuinely in trouble at the moment. I don’t know how he’s actually surviving mentally with everything that’s going on.
”If it wasn’t for the food parcels he would have starved. Whenever my wife and I are making food for tea we make practically double for him, and anything not eaten is brought down to Sean hot because he has no electricity and can’t cook anything.
”In this day and age l just can’t believe it’s like this for people on social security.”
Jeanette Prescott, a councillor on Wigan Borough Council who represents Sean’s ward, has been working with the foodbank that has been helping him.
Cllr Prescott said: “We got involved to sort out his rental problems. We’re very concerned about him.
“They seem to be stopping money for the least little reason. We’re a country that has got money and you see our own people like this. They shouldn’t have to be put through this, it’s disgusting.”
The DWP have said sanctions are a necessary part of the system and they are only used in a small percentage of cases, adding Sean could have received money over the past seven months on hardship grounds but failed to sign on or answer any phone calls.
A DWP spokesman said: “Mr Green is not receiving benefit because he has failed to sign on at the Jobcentre, as requested, to declare that he is actively looking for work.”