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​Government sets out disability employment strategy

December 11, 2017

The UK Government has announced a strategy to improve employment for disabled people. Action for M.E. responded to the consultation that informed this strategy, highlighting how some people with M.E. who are able to could be enabled to retain or gain employment but that many people with the condition are too ill to work, and require alternative support.

Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability was published last week and sets out the government’s plan to tackle unemployment among disabled people through reforming welfare, and supporting employers and health professionals to improve employment prospects.

Some of the key proposals include:

  • Reforming Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) so that employees can claim it part-time: Action for M.E. supported this proposal in the government’s consultation, as it would enable people with fluctuating conditions such as M.E. to manage their work in a way that suited them and receive sick pay for any part-time absences.
  • Personalising employment support: through a Work and Health conversation, Jobcentre Plus staff will seek to tailor employment support to the needs of each individual.
  • Enhancing Access to Work: the government hopes to improve the scheme by introducing personal budgets, and ensuring that equipment supplied to an employee stays with them if they move into another role.

The government’s 2016 green paper had proposed that those in the Employment and Support Allowance Support Group would have the opportunity to access employment support. This latest strategy states that they would make this offer, but there would be no requirement to take it up and claimants in this group can engage voluntarily.

Action for M.E. welcomes the proposals to personalise employment support and respond to the unique needs of each individual, recognising that people with fluctuating conditions such as M.E. need flexible arrangements to manage their symptoms alongside working.

“However, there continues to be fundamental issues with the Work Capability Assessment, which is failing to accurately assess whether people with M.E. are capable of taking up work,” says Sonya Chowdhury, Chief Executive. “This is often due to the assessment being unable to capture the impact of invisible and fluctuating symptoms.

“It’s also vital that the government recognises that some people are simply too unwell to complete any work-related activity. This vulnerable group must continue to receive financial support without any requirement to move towards employment, and they may also require support in transitioning out of work.”

If you have had any issues with managing work alongside M.E., or are considering returning to work, Action for M.E. offer essential information resources for employees with M.E., employers and managers, and employment support professionals.