HC Deb 01 July 1986 vol 100 cc808-9
5. Mr. Andrew Bowden

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will review the limit on supplementary benefit board and lodgings payments made to those in residential homes who become disabled after retirement age so as to bring it in line with the limit applicable in respect of those who are disabled before that age.

Mr. Newton

While we have no plans to do precisely what my hon. Friend suggests, the new limits proposed from 28 July seek to assist those he has in mind by introducing a substantially increased limit for elderly people in residential care homes who are blind or who qualify for the higher rate of attendance allowance.

Mr. Bowden

I welcome the increases in the limits, but how can my hon. Friend justify a position whereby a person who has retired one day after his birthday will receive a lower allowance if he is disabled on that day than a person who is disabled one day before reaching pensionable age? Surely urely that is not fair.

Mr. Newton

The general position was made clear when we introduced the original limits under the regulations. There is a special position for the younger physically disabled, many of whom might he very young and perhaps multiple handicapped. We made it clear that there is a distinction to be drawn between them and the general run of people becoming disabled by advancing years. I accept that there are some problems, but broadly it is a reasonable distinction.

Mrs. Beckett

If I understand the Minister's answer, he is saying that those who become blind after retirement will continue to receive a different rate from those who retire when they are blind. If I understand it correctly, as 83 per cent. of those who become blind do so after retirement, the Minister is really saying, "For heaven's sake, if you are going blind, do it the day before you are 65."

Mr. Newton

That is a rather facile point for the hon. Lady to make. She will realise that one of the difficulties we face—for example, in relation to representations about blindness — is that blindness is only one of a number of potentially disabling conditions that arise after retirement age. We have felt it right to deal generally with severely dependent elderly people.