HC Deb 12 November 1996 vol 285 cc138-9
2. Mr. Sutcliffe

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he has taken to monitor the impact of the all-work test for incapacity benefit on the incomes of disabled people. [1698]

The Minister for Social Security and Disabled People (Mr. Alistair Burt)

The all-work test is designed to focus benefit on those who cannot work because of sickness or disability. Its impact on the income of disabled people will depend on individual circumstances. As with all new benefits, we are monitoring the effect of the changes on all groups.

Mr. Sutcliffe

Will the Minister accept that there is widespread concern that the test is inappropriate and inconsistent? That is borne out by the number of successful appeals against it—there has been a 50 per cent. success rate on appeals. What does his Department intend to do about the 50,000 people who previously could accept invalidity benefit but now cannot get it? What will be done to track those people, to ensure that their circumstances do not worsen?

Mr. Burt

There are two points to be made. First, the success rate on appeals is about the same as it was for the old social security appeals tribunals. Secondly, we are monitoring the way in which the test is being applied. A major study has been done on its consistency and we expect to publish that soon. I hope that that will help the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. John Marshall

Will my hon. Friend confirm that spending on the disabled has more than trebled in real terms since 1979? Will he accept also that many people find it paradoxical that, although the health of the nation has improved, the number of those receiving disability benefit has gone through the roof?

Mr. Burt

My hon. Friend is right: spending on benefits for the disabled has almost quadrupled during our time in office. We introduced incapacity benefit to deal with the problem of a doubling in the number of people on invalidity benefit in the past 10 years when, as my hon. Friend said, the "Health of the Nation" shows that people are fitter.

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