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PIP failing to meet needs of people with M.E.

March 04, 2016

A new report from Action for M.E. highlights how Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is failing to meet the support needs of people with M.E. in Scotland.

This chimes with the Scottish Government’s wider aim, as reported this week, to reduce the stress and stigma of applying for welfare benefits, as Holyrood prepares to take devolved control of benefits including PIP.

A deeply dehumanising experience: M.E./CFS journeys through the PIP claim process in Scotland is a detailed study that builds upon the findings of larger surveys and feedback from Action for M.E.’s Welfare Advice and Support Service, concluding that:

  • key stages of the PIP claim process are not fully accessible to people with M.E.
  • PIP assessment criteria are not being fairly and consistently applied as intended
  • the design of PIP eligibility criteria does not adequately capture the functional limitations caused by M.E.

Mary Fee MSP says, “The chronic disabling condition M.E./CFS can have a devastating impact. This report demonstrates that one of the measures designed to mitigate this impact is failing. Findings indicate that key stages of the PIP claim process are not fully accessible to people with M.E./CFS, while the assessment criteria used as part of this process is not only inadequate when it comes to capturing fluctuating conditions such as M.E., but is also not being fairly and consistently applied.”

The report, co-authored by Action for M.E.’s Katrina Allen, Project Coordinator Scotland and Catherine Hale, Volunteer Policy and Research Officer; and Katharine Seton and Prof Julia Newton, University of Newcastle, makes a number of recommendations that address improving access to assessments, improving decision-making, and taking greater account of the impact of fluctuating conditions such as M.E.

This report is part of our wider engagement with welfare reform in Scotland. Its initial findings were presented at a Scottish Parliament event last year and in our written and oral evidence to the Committee on the future of Social Security in Scotland in September 2015.

We will continue to use it to highlight the complex issues facing people with M.E. in Scotland.