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Social Security Benefits: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will review the procedures by which decisions are made on whether those suffering from myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome should be allowed benefits with a view to reducing the number of such decisions which subsequently go to appeal. (203916)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will review the procedures by which judgement is made on whether those suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome should be allowed benefits in order to reduce the number of appeals and successful appeals. (203973)

I refer my hon. Friends to the written answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Dr. Gibson) on 1 May 2008, Official Report, column 588W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how (a) the provisions of the Welfare Reform Act 2007 and (b) the guidance on disability living allowance published in July 2007 will improve access to benefits for people with myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome. (203917)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how (a) the provisions of the Welfare Reform Act 2007 and (b) the guidance on disability living allowance published in July 2007 will improve access to benefits for people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome who go to appeal to get benefits. (203972)

The Welfare Reform Act 2007 provides for the new employment and support allowance, which will be supported by the new work capability assessment.

The new work capability assessment will be a fair, robust and accurate assessment of a person’s capability for work, reflecting the activities needed in today’s workplace and concentrating on what people can do rather than what they cannot do. The current personal capability assessment needed a thorough review to ensure that the new assessment is up-to-date and accurate, and that it will identify those people who should be entitled to employment and support allowance, including those with long term-and fluctuating conditions such as myalgic encephalopathy.

The work capability assessment is not a snapshot of a person’s condition on the day of the assessment. In assessing whether a person can carry out any given activity, healthcare professionals must take into account the person’s condition over a reasonable period of time. If there is a change in a person’s disabling condition, there will be a provision to refer the person to an approved healthcare professional so that we can determine afresh whether or not the person has limited capability for work, or limited capability for work-related activity.

The disability living allowance guidance on myalgic encephalopathy and chronic fatigue syndrome was developed in conjunction with a group of experts in this area of medicine. It gives benefit decision-makers a greater understanding of this illness and the consequent care needs and mobility difficulties, and will enable them to make better-informed decisions on a person’s entitlement to disability living allowance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to ensure that assessments for the new employment and support allowance take account of the fluctuating state of health which is characteristic of people who have myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome. (203918)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to ensure that assessments for the new employment and support allowance take account of the fluctuating health cycle characteristic of people who have myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. (203975)

I refer my hon. Friends to the written answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Dr. Gibson) on 28 April 2008, Official Report, column 44W.