David Drew, the Labour MP for Stroud, has asked his fourth parliamentary question about ME/CFS in the space of three weeks. This time he asked whether the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions will take steps to ensure that the effects of retrovirus and other illnesses associated with myalgic encephalomyelitis are fully taken into account in assessments of claimants' capability to work.
In his written reply on 1 February, Jim Knight, Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform, said:
“Entitlement to employment and support allowance does not depend on a person's diagnosis or on the treatment they are receiving. It depends on the effect their condition has on their ability to work. This is a fairer way than using criteria based on specific conditions or diagnoses, because the same condition can have very different disabling effects in different people.
“The Department recognises myalgic encephalomyelitis as a real and potentially very disabling condition. Each person claiming employment and support allowance is assessed on the basis of the way the condition affects them as an individual. The work capability assessment looks at a range of activities relevant to work, and assesses whether or not a person can carry them out reliably and safely, over a period of time.”