02 July 2010
This week the Government announced an independent review of the assessment methods for people claiming incapacity-related benefits.
The review is being chaired by occupational health expert Professor Malcolm Harrington, who will produce a report by the end of the year in a bid to see if the Work Capability Assessments (WCA) are fair and transparent.
However, work minister Chris Grayling said the Government would start reassessing existing claimants of Incapacity Benefit in autumn 2010, before Professor Harrington makes his report and any resulting changes are made to the WCA.
Action for M.E.'s Chief Executive, Sir Peter Spencer says:
"Action for M.E. has long been campaigning for a welfare system which treats people with M.E. fairly. This review is overdue and is welcome but only if it addresses the particular problems of patients with long term chronic conditions with distressing symptoms that vary in their intensity over time. This is the crucial aspect for people with M.E. and for patients with similar conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis.
"We are currently compiling a report based on evidence from people with M.E. who have described their experiences of the benefit assessment process. We are also working with other disability groups to address the inequalities faced by the most vulnerable people in the UK.
"Welfare was one of the key items that people with M.E. prioritised in our Election Manifesto for M.E. I have already written to Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions, urging him not to let the current financial climate cause the situation for people with M.E. to deteriorate still further.
"I am therefore particularly disappointed by Chris Graylings announcement that the Department of Work and Pensions will begin the process of re-assessing Incapacity Benefit claims well before Professor Harrington will have concluded his work. Action for M.E. is deeply concerned about the Government’s real intentions regarding people with M.E. and will continue to press them hard over this. ”