‘Don’t write off author benefits’By Linda Fort
October 25, 2010
A young man with a terminal tumour who doesn’t really know why he is still alive has asked for a face-to-face meeting with Iain Duncan Smith.
Martin Hopley, 32, of Egremont Drive, Lower Earley, has just written a book and he fears he may lose his benefits for the last year because he was writing it and claiming at the same time.
He has written to Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and to Lord Howe in the House of Lords explaining his concerns and asking for the meeting with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
And next week he will be walking round Reading with a sandwich board with the dual purpose of promoting his book – called SIS Student Investigation Service – and his benefits campaign.
Mr Hopley’s campaign is twofold, he wants a job and he wants the rules changed so that you do not risk losing benefits while writing a book.
He said: “I don’t want to be on benefits but I can’t get a job.”
At 14 years old he was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the top of his spine, diagnosed as terminally ill at 17 and has had 18 brain operations.
His surgeon sees him once a year.
“He can’t understand why I am still alive,” he said.
However Mr Hopley acknowledged that his medical background puts off prospective employers.
He claims incapacity benefit and disabled person’s allowance because he has constant pain in his legs, double vision, compromised co-ordination and short term memory loss.
But he believes he could work provided the job was tailored to some extent to his medical needs.
He has mainly been on benefits since the age of 20 but did work for a short time in Japan.
Mr Hopley spent the last year writing his book but feared he could lose benefits for that period because he was writing “with the intention of making money” and could be made to pay back benefits.
In 2008, he gave four talks on his illness and was paid £125 for each one.
Although he is entitled to earn £20 a week – or £1,040 a year – he lost his benefits for the four weeks he gave the talks.
Mr Hopley wrote a play when he was in his early 20s about his condition and had it staged.
He also tried stand-up comedy in Reading.
“Stand-up comedy is worse that having a brain operation,” he said. “It is worse because you are not unconscious.”
His book is a crime thriller for young people and people who are young at heart.
It costs £11 and you can order it from bookshops if you quote ISBN9781849913058.
You can also order it from email@example.com.