FORMER commando Gordon Lang has been told he should get back to work – despite having terminal cancer.
Amputee Gordon, 62, was already in dispute with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after they forced the Falklands and Northern Ireland veteran to sign on to Jobseeker’s Allowance.
But the ex-marine was left feeling ‘betrayed’ after saying he told a government work programme about his cancer diagnosis, only to receive a response saying: ‘When you feel fit and ready for work we look forward to working with you to find a suitable job.’
Mr Lang, of Chilworth Grove, Gosport, was then told he will remain on a work programme – despite being about to undergo lung cancer treatment that may only add three months to his life.
Mr Lang, who has not been told how long he has to live, said: ‘I feel not only betrayed but criminalised for being ill.
‘I’ve been at work since I was 10 years old – that’s 50 years in the work place.
‘If I hadn’t lost my leg I’d still be at work now.
‘I’ve never shirked in my life.’
Shaw Trust in Portsmouth, which administers the work programme, wrote the letter to Mr Lang saying they noted he was not well. Mr Lang says that was sent after he gave them a medical note when he first fell ill and told them about his terminal condition.
Shaw Trust insist they were not told how serious Mr Lang’s illness was prior to sending the letter, while the war veteran has since been put back on Employment and Support Allowance.
But the way he has been treated has been called a tragedy.
Richard Dickson, Gosport and Alverstoke branch president of the Royal British Legion, said: ‘It’s a tragedy that those who are there to look after the welfare of our ex-servicemen are totally out of touch.
‘They’re more interested in purse strings than doing what’s right for somebody experiencing great difficulties.
‘I would like to see that somebody has an ounce of humanity in their body to look at exactly what this man needs.’
Mr Lang was receiving Employment and Support Allowance after stopping work as a steward at HMS Sultan in 2012 when he had his leg amputated.
That was cancelled earlier this year when he was assessed by Atos and told he could work, forcing him to sign on at the JobCentre Plus in Gosport.
He was due to go to tribunal over a lost appeal against this decision when the cancer was discovered.
In a statement, Shaw Trust spokesman Joel Charles said: ‘At no point were we advised about the seriousness of Mr Lang’s condition.
‘We wrote to Mr Lang on November 20 to acknowledge that we had received his medical certificate and confirm that he would receive no further contact from Shaw Trust during this period of time.
‘Now that we are aware of all the circumstance, our thoughts are with Mr Lang during this difficult time.’
The not-for-profit firm delivers the work programme for Maximus, which took over from Atos as the DWP’s contractor for work assessments.
A DWP spokesman added: ‘We are hugely grateful to Mr Lang, as we are of everyone who serves our country.’