Waterlooville Navy veteran protests cuts to disability payments

Disabled veteran Mark Bartlett who  had his disability benefits cut''Picture: Sarah Standing (161425-8919)
Disabled veteran Mark Bartlett who had his disability benefits cut''Picture: Sarah Standing (161425-8919)
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Ken Ellcome with Jean and Allan Thompson. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Unsung heroes who have contributed to Portsmouth are honoured by prime minister

Have your say

A FORMER Navy engineer has argued that his disability benefits have been unfairly cut.

Mark Bartlett says that he feels ‘let down by the system’ in the move from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Mark, who suffered major spinal injuries following a powerboat crash in 2002, claims that he is now out of pocket by £200 per month.

He said: ‘To screw up your income is just a kick in the teeth, for something like this to come through and mess everything up is not needed.

‘I feel like I’ve been chucked out on my ear, discarded and forgotten about.’

Healthcare firm Atos is contracted by the Department of Work & Pensions to carry out medical assessments on people claiming PIP.

Mark, 35, was happy to be assessed, but says that the physiotherapist’s examination was not thorough enough for the DWP to justifying reducing his payments from the higher rate to standard rate.

Mark explained: ‘The physiotherapist saw that I was in a lot of pain and discomfort, so he didn’t ask me to take my top off or touch my toes.

‘It was a nice gesture at first, but now it seems that he just guessed the answers to a lot of the questions.

‘If I had to give the physiotherapist a rating out of 10, I’d probably give him zero.’

Mark says that he has encountered fellow veterans through Facebook groups facing similar struggles with their benefits. He said: ‘We’re fighting tooth and nail to get something which should be accessed without any issues.

‘It causes more stress for us when we have enough on our plates.’

Mark claims that the DWP asked him to direct his complaint to Atos, despite the firm not being the body which determines the payment rate.

Mark, from Waterlooville, added: ‘As far as I’m aware my complaint has fallen to people who won’t do anything to help me. I just want this to be rectified and for the physiotherapist not doing his job properly to do it without screwing it up.’

A DWP spokesperson said: ‘Decisions for PIP are made following the consideration of all information provided by the claimant, including any evidence from their GP or medical specialist.

‘Anyone who disagrees with a PIP decision can appeal.’

Atos is investigating Mark’s situation following his complaint.

An Atos spokesman said: ‘We were of course concerned to hear of these claims relating to the assessment and we have written to Mr Bartlett reassuring him that we are investigating the matter.’