The Countess challenges the ‘Mr Magoo approach’ to benefits assessments | in Parliament | 30 November 2016

Story by Tony Britton

So who’s right? Are benefits assessments one of the toughest, most merciless tests that people with ME/CFS have to endure or has the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) just about got them right?

During a debate on Social Security in the House of Lords on November 30, M.E. sufferers’ champion The Countess of Mar asked if the Government was aware “of how utterly demoralised people who have to undergo assessments feel if they are not believed? Even when the derogatory assessment has been overturned by a tribunal, it takes then months and months to regain their self-esteem.

The Countess, who chairs the Forward ME Group of ME/CFS charities and organisations, added tartly:

“Can the Minister please get this matter in hand once and for all?”

She said she had spent years trying to persuade the DWP to recognise the severity of ME/CFS.

You could almost picture Mr Magoo* haunting the room as the Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, replied:

“I thank the noble Countess for that question. We have been working on this issue with her and her group for some years now, and I am under the impression that we have made a lot of progress on ensuring that the illness is thoroughly recognised.”

Editorial note: Mr Magoo was a 1950s film cartoon character, dogged by short-sight and a stubborn refusal to recognise that he might be the cause of some of life’s intractable problems.


OR MORE PROSAICALLY…


Debate – Social Security: Claimants
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The Countess of Mar

My Lords, despite my years of trying to persuade the Department of Work and Pensions to recognise the severity of CFS/ME, is the Minister aware of how utterly demoralised people who have to undergo assessments feel if they are not believed? Even when the derogatory assessment has been overturned by a tribunal, it takes them months and months to regain their self-esteem. Can the Minister please get this matter in hand once and for all?

Lord Freud

I thank the noble Countess for that question. We have been working on this issue with her and her group for some years now, and I am under the impression that we have made a lot of progress on ensuring that the illness is thoroughly recognised.

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