HC Deb 05 February 1990 vol 166 cc632-3
8. Mr. Hague

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security by what proportion spending on benefits for long-term sick and disabled people has increased over the last decade; and how he anticipates recent announcements will affect such expenditure over the next three years.

Mr. Scott

We have increased spending on benefits for people who are long-term sick or disabled by almost 100 per cent. over the past decade. The improvements in help for disabled people that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security announced on 10 January will increase spending by an extra £88 million net in 1990-91, £141 million net in 1991–92 and £214 million net in 1992–93.

Mr. Hague

Does my right hon. Friend agree that his answer demonstrates a powerful commitment over the past 10 years to give more help to those to whom the taxpayer is most anxious that help should be given? Will he take this opportunity to emphasise the Government's continuing desire to give more help and to improve the benefits for sick and disabled people, which can happen only in a successful, free enterprise economy?

Mr. Scott

We have clearly demonstrated our commitment by increasing expenditure in real terms every year by £370 million during our period in office, as against £220 million under the Labour Government, using the same basis for those figures. We are not resting on our laurels. Additional money will be spent every year on the long-term sick and disabled for the rest of this century.

Mr. Meacher

Will the Minister confirm that the extra expenditure on disabled people which arises from the Secretary of State's recent announcement will peak in three years' time at £300 million a year but will fall steadily over the rest of the decade to nil? Will he further confirm that Government figures show that his recent announcement will massively cut benefits to disabled people by £9 billion each year over the next 25 years? Is not this yet another notorious example of the Government cutting the incomes of the most vulnerable sections of society to fund tax cuts for the rich?

Mr. Scott

To reiterate what the hon. Gentleman does not seem to have grasped, there will be extra money each year for the rest of the decade—

Mr Meacher

And after that?

Mr. Scott

That is a long time ahead. We have altered the balance and structure of benefits especially to help those who are disabled early in life or from birth and we have acquired some freedom for manoeuvre in the long term. The country will judge our record of improving benefits for disabled people against that of the previous Labour Government.

Sir Anthony Grant

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the good work that he has done while he has held his present responsibilities, but will he give an assurance that in future expenditure the needs of sufferers from multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease, which are the concern of dedicated societies in Cambridge, will be given the consideration that they deserve?

Mr. Scott

Those who suffer from motor neurone disease will be one of the principal groups who will benefit from clause 1 of the Social Security Bill, which is currently making slow progress through the House. Both the groups that my hon. Friend mentioned are likely to benefit from the age-related additions to severe disability allowance and from the disability allowance that we shall introduce in due course

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