HC Deb 08 March 1999 vol 327 cc17-8
13.Mr. Michael Jabez Foster (Hastings and Rye)

What he is doing to improve the living standards of the poorest disabled people. [73050]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security(Mr. Hugh Bayley)

Our proposals for a new disability income guarantee, together with measures in the Welfare Reform Bill, will provide more help for disabled adults and children who most need it, to enable them to live independently and with dignity.

Mr. Foster

Does my hon. Friend agree that some people will never be able to work, because of the nature of their disability? In view of that, does he also agree that the minimum income guarantee should be updated regularly and will he undertake to do that?

Mr. Bayley

Yes. The Government's policy is work for those who are able to work and security through the benefits system for those who are unable to work. We recognise that work will never be an option for many people on disability benefits and we must ensure that the poorest of those get more support, which is what the minimum income guarantee seeks to achieve. At current prices, when it is introduced it will add £5.75 a week to the basic disability premium and £8.30 a week for couples.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

Will penalties be imposed on those disabled people who fail to turn up for interview? Will they lose their benefits, and if so, for how long?

Mr. Bayley

The proposals for attending a single gateway interview are before the House as part of the Welfare Reform Bill and they will be discussed in Committee. It is the Government's view that it should be a requirement for disabled people, as for others entering the single gateway, to attend an interview. Claimants are already required to do certain things before they are entitled to their money—for example, to fill in the application forms appropriately—and we believe that it makes sense for them to attend an interview. However, for disabled people, there will be no requirement to seek work or take a job if that is not appropriate given their condition.

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