22 August 2008
A questionnaire about the recent Green Paper on welfare reform is now available to complete online, focusing on the welfare benefits and employment experiences of people with M.E.
Action for M.E. urges everyone in the UK who has M.E., or who cares for someone with M.E., to get involved in the consultation by completing the questionnaire.
The purpose of the survey is to gather factual evidence and views from people with M.E., to better inform the Government about the realities of this chronic fluctuating illness and the potential implications of the Green Paper reforms on those who have it.
The survey is open to anyone in the UK who has M.E., and can be completed online until 22 September 2008.
It can be completed by a carer, on behalf of a person with M.E., if necessary.
A separate survey, addressing the issues for carers of people with M.E., will be available on this website from 5 September.
The results will be analysed and compiled into a report which will be submitted to the Department for Work and Pensions before the consultation closes on 22 October. Parliamentary lobbying will then commence in earnest.
Sir Peter Spencer, Chief Executive, Action for M.E. says:
"The Green Paper, No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility, has serious and far reaching implications for people with M.E., for whom living off benefits is a last resort, not a career choice.
"The Government must not be allowed to reduce its benefits bill at the cost of ruining the health of genuine claimants who have long-term, chronic fluctuating conditions.
"That is why this consultation is so crucially important.
"I would like to thank all those people with M.E., including representatives from a number of support groups, who advised on the drafting of the survey.
"The questions it asks are not always easy but I hope as many people as possible will tackle them, pacing themselves as necessary. The survey has been designed to be completed incrementally in sections.
"For our part, we will campaign hard on the basis of the results. Our lobbying will be all the more powerful because it will based on a substantial body of compelling evidence which you will have provided."
In its initial response to the Green Paper on Welfare Reform, presented in the House of Commons on 21 July, Action for M.E. gave a guarded welcome to the Government's proposals to help people to remain in work, to simplify the benefits system and to increase the higher minimum income guarantee from £86.35 to £102.10 for those with the greatest need.
However, the charity had a number of concerns about the Paper, which will be explored further through the questionnaire and through focus groups.