§ Rev. Martin Smyth
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will provide figures for the numbers receiving attendance allowance in Northern Ireland; arid if he is satisfied that it is being paid on exactly the same basis as in England, Scotland and Wales;
(2) if he is satisfied that all entitled to attendance allowance are aware of that entitlement; and what steps he is taking to give better publicity to it;352W
Ministers or the European Commission attended by Ministers or officials of his Department, respectively, since September 1981; and what further such meetings are planned.
§ Mr. Prior
I visited Brussels in November 1981 for bilateral talks with Commissioner Giolitti.
Officials have attended Council and Commission meetings as shown in the following table:
(3) whether there is a statutory ceiling on the numbers who receive attendance allowance in Northern Ireland; and, if so, what is that ceiling.
§ Mr. John Patten
At January 1982, 8,257 persons were in receipt of attendance allowance at the higher rate of £23.65 per week, and 7,919 persons at the lower rate of £15.75 per week, which is 10.5 per 1,000 of the population. The conditions governing entitlement to the allowance in Northern Ireland are identical to those in Great Britain.
While I cannot of course guarantee that every person who may be entitled to attendance allowance is aware of that possible entitlement, it would seem unlikely that many such persons do not know of the availability of the allowance.
The Department of Health and Social Services in Northern Ireland has sought to publicise the allowance by various means, including the distribution of informative literature and posters and through the media. General information about the allowance is given in the Department's booklet the "Family Guide to the cash social security benefits and related services in Northern Ireland" and in the booklet "Help for Handicapped People", a new edition of which was issued in September 1981 with wide publicity. Leaflet NIL 205 deals specifically with the allowance and gives more detailed information. These booklets and the leaflet are freely available at social security offices, social services offices, citizens advice bureaux and other appropriate locations throughout the Province. Copies have also been distributed widely to interested voluntary bodies.
In addition, the Department, with the approval of the attendance allowance board for Northern Ireland, has issued notes on attendance allowance especially for the guidance of doctors and other professional staff in the health and personal services who are in frequent contact with disabled people and may be able to assist them in deciding whether to make a claim for such allowance.
The Department thus seeks to ensure that the allowance is brought to the attention of those likely to qualify for it without at the same time raising expectations unduly, with resultant disappointment in the case of others unlikely to satisfy the stringent medical requirements. The matter of publicity is kept under review.353W
There is no statutory ceiling on the numbers who receive attendance allowance in Northern Ireland. Entitlement depends solely on satisfaction of the statutory criteria.