Welfare Reform — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:04 pm on 10th December 2008.

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Photo of The Countess of Mar The Countess of Mar Crossbench 4:04 pm, 10th December 2008

My Lords, who is responsible for making a decision about what is a serious condition? The noble Lord probably knows that I am going to refer to the ME community. At the moment, they are absolutely terrified of anything to do with social security benefits, because they fear that they will be made to go to work or to do cognitive behaviour therapy or graded exercises to get themselves better, when they know that the extra stress involved is likely to make them more sick.

I remind the noble Lord that both the Chief Medical Officer and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recognise ME as a serious condition in line with multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease. Far too often, ME people are made to feel that they are the scum of the earth, that they are scrounging and seeking attention. Please can I have a reassurance that these people will not be forced into employment when they cannot maintain it?