A chronic and debilitating condition which, to the untrained eye, renders the sufferer as looking 'normal' has been the subject of a real battle between one of Matt Rodda's constituents and the Government benefits agencies. Sadly, however, cases like this are not uncommon.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis sufferer Charis contacted Matt's office following a benefits assessment which ruled her fit for work, in spite of conclusive medical and clinical evidence to the contrary from her GP and other specialists. She has not received any benefit payments for over a year, though counts herself as fortunate as she lives at home with her parents. Other sufferers, living alone, may not be so fortunate and these measures could push them deeper into poverty, depression and debt. Charis now fears that due to her benefits being stopped and whilst her appeal for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is still ongoing, she could likely face transferral to the Universal Credit system where she would lose out significantly on the financial help she should receive.
Charis' condition affects an estimated quarter of a million people in the UK, with an estimated 17 million sufferers worldwide. People with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis experience severe, persistent fatigue associated with post-exertional malaise; the body’s inability to recover after expending even small amounts of energy, leading to a flare-up in symptoms which can include chronic pain, twitching or muscle cramps, migraines, sleep disturbances and a wide range of digestive and sensitivity problems.
Charis agreed to share her experience and be filmed for a BBC documentary 'Inside Out', which is due for transmission in early Spring.
“It was extremely brave of Charis to agree to speak about her experiences with the Government benefit assessment system and her tribunal experience with such openness, resilience and determination in spite of what she has endured. I find it appalling that people are often assessed by Government agencies employing so-called 'healthcare professionals' who are not even qualified in the medical area in which they are conducting these fitness to work assessments.”
“Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a chronic condition which prevents Charis from being able to work, although the cruel and prescriptive way in which she has been assessed has meant that she has been deemed as fit to seek employment. As her MP I shall be supporting her throughout this ongoing process to help ensure that she receives the support and financial assistance through the correct benefits which she is rightly entitled to.”