HC Deb 15 February 1993 vol 219 c10
10. Lady Olga Maitland

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people receive mobility allowance; and what was the figure in 1979.

Mr. Scott

In 1979 an estimated average of 95,000 people received mobility allowance. By 1992. the figure had risen to 660,000—almost a sevenfold increase. The introduction of disability living allowance has extended help with mobility costs even further.

Lady Olga Maitland

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on those excellent figures. Will he confirm that they show an increase of 173 per cent. in real terms? Does he agree that that is acceptable progress, compared with the carping and jeering of Labour Members, whose party always failed to deliver the same level of support to sick and disabled people?

Mr. Scott

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend. I am particularly glad that, unlike the Labour party, we were able to introduce the disability living allowance in one go rather than having to phase it in over four years. I am delighted at the success of the new lower rates that have been introduced for DLA, which will make a significant improvement in the provision for mobility costs.

Mr. Wigley

May I press the Minister further on the reply that he gave earlier? Is he aware that since he last answered the question four weeks ago, hon. Members have received replies that had been waiting two or three months and that his assurances do not ring all that true? When will all those who are waiting have their cases cleared up, because it is they who are suffering from the Government's subterfuge in staging the introduction of the benefit?

Mr. Scott

I well understand the puzzlement of hon. Members who have received letters informing them of the outcome of claims that were settled weeks ago. It is perfectly understandable for the Benefits Agency to have concentrated on clearing those claims first and then bringing hon. Members up to date. Hon. Members' letters should be cleared by the end of this month. All new Members' letters will now be met within the 20-day target. Last year's claims will be cleared by April, and reviews and appeals should be cleared by May.

Mr. Milligan

I welcome my right hon. Friend's announcement about the speeding up of the payment—

Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must ask Question 11.