Welfare Reform races forward
23 January 2009
The Welfare Reform Bill was published 14 January and will get its second reading on Tuesday (27 January), when it will be debated in the House of Commons. The Bill will then go into the committee stage, when it will be looked at clause by clause by a cross-party committee.
Action for M.E. has written to parliamentarians, enclosing a copy of its welfare reform consultation report asking them to consider the findings and to ask the Department for Work and Pensions in particular:
- how the new proposals will be independently monitored?
- how medical assessments have been improved to take better account of fluctuating conditions?
- what specific safeguards will be put in place to protect vulnerable people who have genuine but invisible, fluctuating illnesses from unintentional harm?
- what specialised training personal advisers will receive in supporting disabled people and those with chronic fluctuating conditions like M.E., given the wide range of disabilities and conditions which exist and fears that the specialist back-to-work support required by those who need it most will simply prove too expensive for providers to deliver safely and effectively within a competitive bidding process?
- how Government will achieve a balance between helping as many people with M.E. into work or work like activity as are able, whilst protecting the most vulnerable against what could amount to coercion into activity levels that would greatly exacerbate their health problems?
- how Government will ensure that claimants who have CFS/M.E. will not be required to undertake activity or condition management programmes without specialist medical support?
- how the Department for Work and Pensions can try to enforce work-related activity and condition management programmes for people with CFS/ME when the Department of Health / National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence advise healthcare professionals that people with CFS/ME have the right to refuse or withdraw from controversial activity management programmes suggested as part of their care programme?
- how and where the new proposals will be piloted?
- what is proposed for carers currently in receipt of income support?
- will Government consolidate legislation so that it is easier to understand and implement?
Action for M.E. is encouraging everyone who has M.E. who is able - and their carers - to contact their MP about these issues.
Printed copies of our consultation report are available on request.
The charity produced a rough guide to the White Paper on welfare reform before Christmas. Not all the proposals in the White Paper require legislation before they can be implemented but most of those which do are covered by the Bill.