Fibrobenefit – E-petition response

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton

I received this email from the Prime Minister’s Office at No.10 Downing Street, London, UK, today –

You signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to “Ease the pressure on
fibromyalgia sufferers and the benefits system including medical
assistance” –

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ease the pressure on fibromyalgia sufferers and the benefits system including medical assistance.”

“Gordon We ask for easier access to benefits within the DWP, Fibromyalgia sufferers are being pressured to produce too much evidence also, we are being asked to attend too many back to work pressure initiatives which compounded with excessive form filling causes flare-ups which does not allow us suitable calm to balance our condition which as you know has no cure. A Fibromyalgia sufferer would be happy to get out and about, work would be seen by many of us as a luxury, we really do not need to be pressured or lead before we are ready. Cheers for now Mark Manzie on behalf of those who suffer.”

Launched by Lisa Manzie, the petition ended in December with JUST 302 signatures.

Read the Government’s response

Thank you for signing this epetition and raising the concerns of Fibromyalgia sufferers in relation access to benefits and the work capability assessment.

The Work Capability Assessment

Individuals applying for Employment and Support Allowance will be asked to undertake a Work Capability Assessment. This is carried out by an independent healthcare professional, who assesses an individual’s functional capability. They then provide advice for a decision maker within the Department on the individual’s limited capability for work and limited capability for work related activity.

The Work Capability Assessment does not simply assess an individual’s capability on that day, but will take account of fluctuations in their condition. The healthcare professional will assess whether an individual is capable of carrying out an activity reliably and repeatedly the majority of the time. If this is not the case, then they are considered unable to carry it out at all. The advice which the healthcare professional provides to the decision maker therefore accurately reflects fluctuations in an individual’s condition, with respect to their frequency and duration.

Fluctuations are also accounted for in the provision of support. For example personal advisers are able to defer work-focused interviews where a claimant is too ill to participate at that time. In this way, Employment and Support Allowance operates as a personalised benefit, tailoring support to the individual.

The Work Capability Assessment focuses on the effect a person’s condition has on their capability for work, not on the condition itself.

Work-focused Interviews

Customers in receipt of a working age Jobcentre Plus benefit e.g. Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance are required by law to attend a Work Focused Interview as a condition of continued entitlement to the full amount of benefit. However, where there is reason to believe that the customer would not benefit from the interview at the current time it may be deferred for a short period. Any deferral decision is made on an individual basis, takes account of the customer’s particular circumstances including the effect a person’s condition has on those circumstances, not on the condition itself and is at the discretion of the adviser.

The purpose of the Work Focused Interview is to help a customer identify appropriate job goals and establish what assistance is required to achieve them. The adviser works with the customer to agree an Action Plan. They would not expect the customer to participate in any activity until they were ready. One outcome may be attendance on a Condition Management Programme. The aim of the Condition Management Programme is to educate, support and advise customers on how best to manage their condition and to improve their functional ability.

For Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance customers, these interviews are conducted through the Pathways to Work Service which is specifically designed for people with a disability or health condition.


What are your experiences? How did you do with your assessment? Tell me your ‘horror’ stories – let us talk. I need your name and email address and the town where you live – but will only print your first name and the town. Subject matter please – BENEFITS & No.10. Please share with us – it could help others.

If you are launching an e-petition about fibromyalgia please tell me and I will sign it, tell my friends and hopefully they will tell theirs. A mere 302 signatures out of at least 2 million fibromyalgia sufferers is a poor show – you must agree!

Okay so you did not know about this e-petition and some folks do not have access to the Internet, but I am trying to make changes –

email me at

with your e-petition link. It is over to you – we are all fighting the same battle – recognition – awareness and some funding from the Government for research.


How do you launch an e-petition? For UK residents only – log on to

It is really quite simple but you will be asked to consider if your message has already been printed on this website. This may mean some minor changes to your petition title and wording. It is a good idea to search for ‘fibromyalgia’ on the website before you finalise your e-petition.

Prepare the message on your desktop so you can spellcheck, cut and paste. Consider how long you want the e-petition to be active. You will need a closing date and their response will be sent to you automatically. Make a note of the website link address. Finally if you do not tell everyone about your e-petition, they will not sign it.

Add the e-petition link at the bottom of every email you send out, asking for support and please tell me. If you belong to a group make sure they know. Send details to the FMA UK website ( and announce details on any forum you belong to.

You need 1,000s of signatures for any real impact although it appears they answer your petition with just 302 people signing.

Good luck and do not forget to let me know please – Jeanne at


Why not send it to your MP? Who is he? Log on to with your post code

You can search for his/her postal address, email or whatever and send the link asking for your question to be raised by him in the House. They are back after half term from February 23rd. A fairly safe bet for an email address is There are exceptions but this works most of the time.

If this produces some exciting results from your MP and No. 10 do let me know. News is my business and I am doing this for the late News Editor Rick Usher – read About FMS Global News 2009 (top of the page). It is all voluntary I should add. Talk soon. Jeanne

Please excuse any typos – I do try but sadly fibro fog gets in the way…..

About jeanne hambleton

Journalist-wordsmith, former reporter, columnist, film critic, editor, Town Clerk and then fibromite and eventer with 5 conferences done and dusted. Interested in all health and well being issues, passionate about research to find a cure and cause for fibromyalgia. Member LinkedIn. Worked for 4 years with FMA UK as Regional Coordinator for SW and SE,and Chair for FMS SAS the Sussex and Surrey FM umbrella charity and Chair Folly Pogs Fibromyalgia Research UK - finding funding for our "cause for a cure" and President and co ordinator of National FM Conferences. Just finished last national annual Fibromyalgia Conference Weekend. This was another success with speakers from the States . Next year's conference in Chichester Park Hotel, West Sussex, will be April 24/27 2015 and bookings are coming in from those who raved about the event every year. I am very busy but happy to produce articles for publication. News Editor of FMS Global News on line but a bit behind due to conference. A workaholic beyond redemption! The future - who knows? Open to offers with payment. Versatile and looking for a regular paid column - you call the tune and I will play the pipes.
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