A PORTSMOUTH MP has welcomed the news that sickness benefits claimants will no longer have to go through reassessments to keep up their payments if they suffer from a chronic illness.
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP and Minister of State for Work and Pensions has backed the plans, which are to be announced today.
Damian Green, Work and Pensions Secretary, will announce at the Conservative party conference later today that employment support allowance (ESA) will continue automatically for those who have lifelong and severe health conditions with no prospect of improvement.
The testing process has come under severe criticism as claimant’s conditions have been reassessed every six months.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘Continually being reassessed for a condition which is chronic or degenerative is unneccessary and places great stress on the person concerned, so why do it?
‘There are many other issues we wish to look at too and we will shortly bring forward a green paper to look at the whole area of health and work.
‘We have to ensure everyone in our society, whatever their ability, can achieve their full potential.
‘Unless they do, our country never will.’
A criteria is to be drawn up by health professionals but illnesses such as severe Huntington’s, autism or a congenital heart condition are likely to qualify for continuous payments without reassessment.
Mr Green told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We are building a country that works for everyone - not just the privileged few.
‘A key part of that is making sure that all those who are able to work are given the support and the opportunity to do so.
‘But it also means ensuring that we give full and proper support to those who can’t.
‘That includes sweeping any unnecessary stress and bureaucracy - particularly for the most vulnerable in society.’
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of the MS Society, said: ‘This is a victory for common sense.
‘Frequent reassessments for people with progressive conditions like MS are too often a waste of time and money; they can leave people with uncertainty and fear of having their support taken away.’