Armed Services Refused Disability Benefit – Why They Don’t Care Part 1
The anger over the number of armed service personnel who are being denied disability benefit because of the now totally discredited Conservative – Lib Dem policy on assessments by Atos Healthcare is very real.
Not the least by the injured service personnel themselves, their families and friends.
If it isn’t bad enough that wounded and injured veterans are, at a time when having to come to terms with their injuries and an uncertain future, now being denied disability benefits after being declared fit for work by Atos Healthcare.
It may well be the final straw for many of them.
What doesn’t appear to have been taken into account during the assessments is the mental impact from which injured ex-service personnel suffer.
It is an amazing position to be in considering the amount of information available from great organisations such as Combat Stress.
Those who are carrying out the assessments have to realise that all of those who have served on active service suffer some degree of psychological damage, and that because of the military team ethos which involves ‘not making a fuss’ the suffering is played down.
It has from the start been argued that Atos Healthcare, under contract by the Department of Work and Pensions, is not capable of carrying out the assessments and that the fact that their doctors and psychologists have not treated service people before would become a major problem.
The Government, as part of their declared support of armed services, stated through the Armed Forces Covenant that they would provide all of the necessary support based on individual need.
So why is it that a recent survey by the Royal British Legion is showing that there has been an increase in the number of injured ex-servicemen who have been refused Employment Support Allowance by over 70%?
I accept that those whose claims have been rejected have a right to appeal but it assumes that the individuals have the capability to appeal.
In reality it may well mean that those suffering from extreme, and often, delayed psychological anguish, which after the Second World War was called “shell shock” and is now correctly called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may not be in a position to appeal.
There have also been reports that during the assessment injured ex-service personnel have been told by Atos Healthcare staff that they are under pressure to reject assessments as part of the Governments Welfare Reforms.
Put simply the Conservative – Lib Dem coalition have included and ‘lumped’ injured ex-servicemen in with those they accuse of being ‘scroungers’ as part of their justification for cutting welfare.
I don’t believe that Ian Duncan Smith, as the architect of the welfare reforms, intended this to happen but what it demonstrates is that the Atos Healthcare assessments by the DWP are, as was pointed out at the time, both callous and fundamentally flawed.
What is clear is that the Conservative led Government don’t really care because they think that the majority of people in the UK, whilst unquestionably supporting and being angry at the way our injured armed servicemen and women are being treated, won’t take it into consideration when voting.
It is a view that I hope will not only rebound but come back to haunt them in 2015.