A soldier's tale

Benefit Tales /   June 29, 2015 at 8:39 PM 1,132 views

The government doesn’t trust the cumulative impact study an independent charity has carried out on it’s welfare ‘reforms’. Here is the cumulative impact that the Conservative’s welfare reforms are having on one mentally ill army veteran diagnosed with cancer. An army veteran I know who was homeless didn’t have a bank account or post office account or proof of identity. He suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder dating back to the Iraq war, and has been unable to work for years. They said he had to start using a Payment Card to get his benefits rather than collecting them in cash. But none of the official Paypoints would accept the card without proof of identity. He had to apply for a passport and to do that he needed his birth certificate, and both cost money. Meanwhile he wasn’t receiving a penny in benefits, and it was a cold winter (2012 – 13), he was developing cancer, since diagnosed, and didn’t even have the money to pay for an overnight bed in a hostel. He was on the streets, in pain and begging, and borrowing money where he could. So firstly he had to raise over £100 to apply for birth certificate and passport. The money was eventually found, an application sent off for the birth certificate. It arrived a couple of weeks later. Off went the application for his passport. It took 5 weeks (no money to pay for a fast track service). He went to the paypoint with his Benefits Payment card and new passport. Instead of many weeks accumulated back pay, there was no money in the account. Several phone calls later (with no money, remember) he found that as the money had been sitting in the account for over 6 weeks, the DWP had clawed it back. Months and months later, still no back payment, and he has been unable to pay back the people who lent him money. At this point he was diagnosed with aggressive colon cancer, which has since spread. He is now housed in a pokey private let ‘studio’ although he can’t afford heating because of a rampant pre-pay meter, plus having to pay a proportion of his council tax and rent. He is now receiving treatment for his cancer, but still being put through the mill by Atos and co, who have turned down his ESA claim and are forcing him through the appeals process for both his sickness benefit and his Army pension. He has been summoned to four Atos assessments in under a year. He has been offered a place in an Army hospice which he really likes and needs, but it is over 100 miles away from his flat and hospital treatment. If he moves to the hospice and transfers his treatment to a local hospital near there, he will lose his flat. And as he will only get out of the hospice if he is better, he will no longer be considered an urgent case by the local council, and will stand no chance of social housing. Or any housing at all in this part of London, because of the benefit cap. He will be back on the streets. Relying on local contacts to survive his precarious life, if he moved out of the area he would be lost. An army charity has finally provided some funds to take him back and forth from the hospice to his treatment, which involves staying in London a couple of days each week. The London hospital would not provide patient transport from his flat to the hospital because he could walk and did not currently have a terminal diagnosos. He has had to shuffle 4 miles each way to and from the hospital to get his chemotherapy and other treatment. The bowel cancer makes walking very painful, and after chemotherapy a patient is supposed to rest. The bowel cancer has now spread to his bladder. I have tried to help him over the last year and a half, and he has given me permission to tell his story. Courtesy of Argotina at Benefit Tales

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