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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to put in place safeguards to protect people with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis who are unable to work from being pressurised into unsuitable work or work-related activity prematurely when such a return to activity could be detrimental to their health.
We recognise chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis can be severely disabling. Where a disability or health condition makes it unreasonable for a person to work we commit to support them. The right benefit in such cases is employment and support allowance (ESA). Those with the most severe functional limitations will be placed in the support group, with no conditionality/work related activity requirements.
People with limited capability for work will be placed in the work-related activity group. These individuals may be required to undertake work-related activity, which an adviser will discuss with them and will be detailed in their action plan. Work-related activity (WRA) may include work focused interviews (WFI) and other activities-for example, undertaking a training course or preparing a CV. Any activity the claimant is required to undertake must be reasonable in their circumstances. Advisers have the discretion to not impose work-related activity as they see fit. The purpose of work-related activity is to be of help to a claimant. Through these flexibilities we empowered advisers to support a wide variety of people, many of whom may have fluctuating conditions. At no time can an ESA customer be directed to seek, apply for or do work, nor to undertake medical treatment.
Safeguards are important for all ESA claimants rather than being condition specific. ESA customers have the right to ask for an activity to be reconsidered if they feel it is unreasonable. The reconsideration is undertaken by a Jobcentre Plus decision-maker. Customers also have the right of appeal, which is dealt with by an appeals tribunal.