Degrading back-to-work welfare assessments that are stripping former soldiers of their benefits have been denounced by leading veterans’ charities.
Thousands of ex-servicemen are being pushed to the breadline after being judged fit for work by the government-appointed company Atos. Severely wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, who were once entitled to incapacity benefits, are being told they no longer qualify under new assessments carried out by Atos on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Danny Greeno, chief executive of the Veterans Charity, said: “It is becoming an unbearable situation. It should not be happening to people who have served their country. The people doing these assessments need to be properly qualified.”
Lance-Corporal Mark Dryden, 35, who lost his right arm when a roadside bomb went off in Iraq, was awarded incapacity benefit in 2008 but had it withdrawn this year under the new system. He described the assessment, in which he was asked by Atos whether he was right-handed, as “totally and utterly degrading.”
Mr Greeno added: “Many of these people are already on the breadline. The majority are suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. All they want to do is work but they cannot. The challenges they are facing are completely different to other people who are out of work and they need a lot more support.”