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Disability employment gap inquiry: Action for M.E. responds

May 06, 2016

Action for M.E. has responded to the Work and Pensions Committee's inquiry into the Government’s commitment to halve the "disability employment gap" – the difference in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people. 

The inquiry assesses the scale of the challenge and the likely effectiveness of the Government’s employment support and benefit policies in achieving this goal.

For our response we took into account the experience and expertise of our staff and volunteers, including our SEE M.E. employment project advisers, and the views of people with M.E./CFS.

We highlight several key points relating to the disability employment gap, including:

  • Integrated employment and health support can make a positive difference to disabled and ill people with employment goals.
  • Specialist disability employment advisers need to be trained in a wide range of disability and health matters, including chronic, fluctuating, long-term conditions such as M.E.
  • Awareness about support available through Access to Work needs to be increased.
  • The abolition of the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity component is likely to cause financial hardship and stress for many people with M.E., potentially leading to a worsening of symptoms and therefore moving people with M.E. further away from work..

We also state that it is essential to remember that some people are simply too ill to work, regardless of the support made available to them. One person with M.E. told us: “My job was my life. I honestly loved what I did as a veterinary nurse. My employers did try to make things easier but there's nothing that can inject a person with energy. Sure, they can provide chairs and more breaks but it's not enough. I had to give up after a year of trying: it was just too much and I collapsed.”

We will keep you updated with any developments relating to this inquiry.