Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 12:37 UK

Petition over incapacity benefit

A chronically ill Manx man is to petition the government on Tynwald Day for extra money for people with long term illnesses.

Residents on the island have a historic right to raise grievances before the Manx parliament.

Rob Farrer, 54, from Peel, suffers from Parkinson's Disease and receives 63.75 a week in incapacity benefit, which says is "barely enough to scrape by".

The Department for Social Security said payments matched UK rates.

The current allowance is 63.75 for the first 28 weeks and 75.40 for the rest of the year after which it goes up to 84.50.

The highest may be available after six months if the person is terminally ill or receiving the highest rate of disability living allowance.

Mr Farrer, a former painter and decorator, said: "I have never claimed a benefit in my life and I think it's disgusting that after working for 40 years that was all I was entitled to - so I started to ask questions.

"After all, the Isle of Man is one of the richest societies in western Europe, so we can pay a bit more."

I'm not asking for massive amounts - all I want is a little more help
Rob Farrer

He added: "I have spoken to many people in similar circumstances who are just scraping by.

"The current system may work for people with short term illnesses but for people who are never going to work again, they can't continue to struggle on for years and years on such little money."

Mr Farrer said he has had to take a mortgage holiday as he can no longer afford to pay, and many who suffer with chronic illnesses live in fear of losing their house.

"People find when they stop work that because of their condition they aren't covered by their insurance and feel they have to move.

"I'm not asking for massive amounts - all I want is a little more help. An extra 40-60 a week would bring us to about half the minimum wage.

"The government seems to be able to find money for any other project - roads, towns, harbours, prisons - but the man in the street is really struggling."

The government also said that income support is also available in addition to incapacity benefit for those people who need additional support to meet their living costs during a period of incapacity.

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