26 May 2011
Another question about M.E. has been raised and one answered in the House of Commons after lobbying by campaigners during M.E. Awareness Week.
On 18 May, Caroline Lucas MP tabled a written question, asking the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on ensuring full implementation of the National Service Framework for Long-term Conditions; and if he will make a statement. (Awaiting response).
On 19 May, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Chris Grayling, responded to Ian Swales’ question, “What his policy is on measures to ensure that people with myalgic encephalomyelitis who are unable to work are not required to undertake unsuitable work or work-related activity.”
This question was one of those suggested to Mr Swales by Action for M.E.
According to Hansard the minister replied:
“We recognise that M.E. has a wide spectrum of symptoms and can be a severely debilitating condition. The effects of M.E. on an individual may contribute to someone meeting the entitlement conditions for benefits.
“When someone's health condition or disability, or the treatment they are receiving, makes it unreasonable to expect them to work we are committed to supporting them. The appropriate benefit in such cases is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Entitlement to ESA is based on an individual's functional ability rather than the condition itself. Anyone claiming ESA will undergo the work capability assessment. Those with the most severe functional limitations will be placed in the Support Group, for which the undertaking of work related activity is not a requirement.
“People with limited capability for work will be placed in the Work-Related Activity Group. These individuals may be required to undertake work-related activity, detailed in their action plan, which must be reasonable in their circumstances. If they feel the requirement on them is unreasonable, they will be able to request the activity is reconsidered. Advisers will not be able to direct people on ESA to seek, apply for or do work, nor will they be directed to undertake medical treatment.”