Annette Brooke MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME, had put down a written question that asked Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith what steps he was taking to develop a set of assessment criteria for personal independence payments that recognised fluctuating conditions such as M.E. and chronic fatigue syndrome.
In a written answer provided on 17 May 2012, the Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller replied:
We recognise the importance of ensuring that the assessment for personal independence payment deals effectively with the impact of variable and fluctuating conditions. This is something we have been considering throughout the development process.
Our proposals for the assessment criteria have been developed in collaboration with a group of independent experts in health and disability and with considerable input from disabled people and disability organisations. Throughout the development process we have met with a range of organisations representing people with fluctuating conditions, including Action for ME and other organisations representing people suffering from CFS/ME.
Our proposal is that the assessment will consider an individual's ability to carry out activities over a period of time, enabling us to capture a reliable picture of how they are affected by their condition. Our current thinking is to look at the impact of impairments over a 12-month period and consider how ability is affected on the majority of the days in that period. This process should allow us to take the fluctuations into account.
However, the criteria have not yet been finalised. Our formal consultation on the second draft of the assessment criteria closed on 30 April and we are now in the process of carefully considering all of the responses we have received, along with feedback from stakeholder meetings held during the consultation period.
I can assure you that we are considering all of these comments very carefully as we evaluate what changes need to be made to the assessment criteria.
We intend to publish a response to the consultation alongside a revised draft of the assessment criteria later in the year, once our considerations are complete. The final draft regulations will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny through the affirmative procedure.