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Former soldier in plea for help

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: February 20, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

Former paratrooper Steve Buchanan.

Former paratrooper Steve Buchanan.

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A FORMER paratrooper with a series of health problems has spoken of his plight after receiving no benefits for more than four months.

Steve Buchanan of Nelson Street, Leek has served in Belfast, the Gulf War and in Sierra Leone.

However, since 2009 the 40-year-old has suffered four strokes. He also has a heart condition and arthritis.

Now he has blamed the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of failing to address his financial issues amid changes to the benefits system.

He said: "I used to get Disability Living Allowance, but last August I was sent new forms as they said it was changing to Personal Independent Payment.

"I filled in the forms and I received a letter back about four weeks later saying my claim was being processed.

"Last October I was told it could be another six to eight weeks.

"At the end of December I had a letter saying I had got to have a house assessment.

"This was completed and I was told that within two weeks my payment should be ready. I have also completed a medical assessment.

"But I have still not heard anything. I can't afford to pay my rent or gas. My friends have brought me heaters.

"I have to live on £150 a fortnight Employment Support Allowance.

"I feel that I am about to break down as I am not eating properly and I have lost a lot of weight.

"I have also had the added stress about paying my rent and bills."

The Post & Times contacted the DWP, which said it was to update Mr Buchanan on his claim.

A spokesman said: "We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our armed servicemen and women and will do everything we can to help them find work or get the benefit support they need when they leave the services.

"We have contacted Mr Buchanan to apologise for any delays and update him on his claim.

"Any delays experienced by claimants will not affect the date from which they are paid so no claimant will be left out of pocket."

Staffordshire Moorlands MP, Karen Bradley, is also looking into Mr Buchanan's case and said she was doing everything she could to assist him.

Mr Buchanan said despite many letter and calls no-one has help him during the last few months.

He added: "I have had no money since last September. I simply cannot live.

"My private landlord has been brilliant, but I can't expect them to keep not being paid.

"When you try to contact anyone you finish up with just a call centre.

"I have not been out of the house since last October as I cannot afford the taxi fare to the town centre.

"I served in the RAF for four-and-a half-years, then I trained and joined the Paratroop Regiment for four years. I have served in Belfast the Gulf and Sierra Leone.

"I have served my country, but then I can't get any help from anyone."

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