§ Mr. Denham
Disability benefits, including Disability Living Allowance (DLA), are included in the Department's Comprehensive Spending Review, which was announced on 11 June last year. The review is an important step in our plan to modernise and improve the Social Security system, so that it helps people to work as far as they are able; provides appropriate support to those who cannot work; and makes the most effective use of the resources available.
No decisions have been taken to make greater use of home visits to supplement the information provided by new claimants for DLA. However, as part of the review, we are looking at ways of improving the claims process and we will take account of concerns expressed by the Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board, adjudication officers, disabled people and organisations which represent them.167W
§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average waiting time for appeal hearings for people applying to claim disability living allowance in(a) Portsmouth and (b) Southampton; and what were the averages in each of the last three years. 
§ Mr. Denham
The operation of the appeals system is a matter for the Independent Tribunal Service (ITS) who report that the information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available from the ITS is set out in the table.
The national average clearance times for disability appeal tribunals as a whole in each of the last three financial years Financial year Time (in weeks) 1995–96 32 1996–97 33 1997–98 29
- 1. Appeals relating to Disability Living Allowance are heard by Disability Appeal Tribunals (DATs).
- 2. Statistics do not differentiate between appeals to DATs concerning Disability Living Allowance and those concerning other benefits.
- 3. ITS does not maintain statistics which relate to individual DAT or other tribunal venues.