Camborne Navy veteran fit for work but too expensive to insure
AN AMPUTEE Navy veteran said he has been knocked back for more than 2,600 jobs.
Former petty officer Mark Cock, from Praze-an-Beeble, Camborne, blamed the rejections on companies being unable to afford to insure him.
Now the divorced father of four fears he and thousands of others with disabilities could be declared fit for work in the benefits overhaul, but will be unable to find jobs and lose their benefits.
He said: "This is a nightmare because I feel I am fitter than many able-bodied people and yet the door is being slammed in my face. I want to work and don't like taking benefits because I have worked all my life. It makes me angry."
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Mr Cock, 45, lost his right leg after being in a car crash soon after he left the Navy in 1995.
Since then he has worked in IT and most recently been running his own business importing motorcycles.
But the recession forced him to seek new employment and since October last year Mr Cock, who is registered with seven recruitment agencies, says he has been refused over 2,600 jobs in IT nationwide and abroad.
To improve his chances, Mr Cock started a two-year plumbing course at Cornwall College in September.
"I wanted to add another string to my bow because I had so many knockbacks.
"Now I have been told by companies I have approached for apprenticeships that they cannot employ me because it would cost too much to insure me because of my disability.
"Without an apprenticeship, I will fail my course."
Mr Cock is now urging other disabled people to lobby with him against the imminent changes in disability benefits.
He said: "They want people with a disability to get back to work but if the insurance is astronomically high, how can they do that?
"I am not blaming the companies just trying to keep their businesses in the black, but I want the Government to step in and do something about it before the disability pension is being taken away from some people in April.
"The more people can create noise the better so we can approach MPs and ask them to help us."
Disability Cornwall, based in Hayle, said the legality of potentially discriminating against Mr Cock should be investigated. Steve Paget, MBE, chairman of the charity, added: "Certainly from our perspective our own insurers have never asked for details of employees and their disabilities."
Atos Healthcare has been awarded the government contract to carry out disability "fit for work" assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Mr Cock can be contacted on 07547 679088.