HC Deb 08 March 1988 vol 129 cc180-1W
Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what special arrangements he is making to assist the long-term disabled when the new benefit system comes into effect in April.

Mr. Scott

Under the new benefit system, income support replaces supplementary benefit from 11 April. Claimants who, or whose partners receive attendance allowance, mobility allowance, invalidity benefit or severe disablement allowance or are blind, will qualify for the disability premium, as will claimants who have been sick for at least 28 weeks. The premium will be £13£05 for a single person and £18£60 for a couple. Claimants who are, or whose partner is, aged 60 or over and receive one of these qualifying benefits or are blind, will qualify for the higher pensioner premium which is payable at the same rate; so too will claimants who, immediately before their 60th birthday, were receiving the disability premium. People entitled to the disability premium who work part-time will be entitled to the higher (£ l5) earnings disregard. In addition, the severe disability premium will be paid to claimants who receive attendance allowance, live independently in the community and are not cared for by someone receiving invalid care allowance. This premium is £24.75 for a single person and £49.50 for couples both of whom satisfy the conditions. The same provisions will exist in the new housing benefit cheme.

There will be no limit on the number of hours mentally or physically disabled people can work and remain entitled to income support if their earning capacity is reduced to 75 per cent. or less of what they would otherwise earn. Normally people who work 24 hours or more a week on average will not be entitled.

We also intend to establish a special fund to enable very severely disabled people to live independently.

We will look again at provisions for disabled people when the results of the survey into disability being carried out by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys are known.