HC Deb 30 April 1998 vol 311 cc213-4W
Ms Perham

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans she has for reforming the Benefit Integrity Project; and if she will make a statement on the review of the gateways into disability living allowance and attendance allowance. [38949]

Mr. Denham

The Benefit Integrity Project aims to help ensure the correctness of awards of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which evidence has shown to be vulnerable to change over time. Up-to-date information is being gathered from beneficiaries about their care and mobility needs, so that we can check that they are receiving the correct amount of DLA.

Since taking office last year, we have made a number of improvements to the way in which the Project operates. On 9 February, we introduced an extra safeguard, to help ensure that we get decisions right and restore confidence.

Following consultation between my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State and my noble Friend, the Baroness Hollis and the disability organisations, we took the decision that people aged 65 or over would not be contacted as part of the Project. We will work with the disability organisations to look at ways of improving Project literature and staff training, at speeding up reviews and appeals and at extending the categories of people who need not be contacted directly as part of the Project.

This demonstrates our determination to be fair and to keep under review the way in which the Project operates. We are setting up a forum with organisations of and for disabled people to discuss how the gateways to DLA and Attendance Allowance (AA) can be improved. We are committed to the principle of providing special allowances to help with the extra costs of disability and we intend to maintain DLA and AA as universal, national benefits for those who meet the entitlement conditions.

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