Because M.E. is a chronic fluctuating illness, patients who are too ill to work (and their carers) were exceptionally vulnerable within the welfare benefits system, even before the pressures of national austerity began to drive the focus of welfare reform.
Our surveys consistently show that too many have already experienced a relapse in the struggle to access, claim and retain the benefits they need.
Respondents are clear: the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Jobcentre Plus
staff – including doctors and assessors in subcontracted medical services – do not understand the fluctuating complexities of M.E.
One-size-fits-all assessments work against people who have chronic fluctuating conditions. The problem is illustrated by the high number of awards made at the appeal stage after rejection of the first claim.
What are we calling for?
Recognising the priorities identified by people with M.E. in our 2010 election manifesto, Action for M.E. is calling for a fundamental shift in attitude in welfare policy and practice towards chronic fluctuating illnesses.
We want to see: Sufficient safeguards put in place to protect people who are genuinely unable to work from being pressurised into unsuitable work or work-related activity prematurely, when a return to such activity could be detrimental to their health.
- Introduction of up-to-date and accurate M.E. training within local authority Social Services departments, the DWP, Jobcentre Plus and subcontracted services, including medical assessors.
- A full review of the guidance on M.E. for new and existing assessors and other staff working in and for the DWP.