HC Deb 09 February 1998 vol 306 cc75-6W
Mr. Swinney

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is her policy in respect of the timescale and opportunity for future reassessment of the benefit payments for those claimants who have had their benefit reduced or set aside as a result of the Benefit Integrity Project. [27908]

Industrial injuries disablement benefit—chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema unsuccessful claims from 1 April 1997 to 31 December 1997 by reason
Area Directorate Failed FEV1 test Failed 20 year1
AD1 East London and Anglia 1 6
AD2 Chilterns 1 2
AD3 London South 110 18
AD4 West Country 14 12
AD5 Mercia 2,885 183

Ms Harman

The Benefit Integrity Project helps ensure the correctness of awards of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). 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.

It is important that decisions about benefit entitlement are made fairly and are seen to be fair. I am taking action to improve the quality of decisions made by the Project which involve a reduction or removal of benefit. In future, no decision resulting in reduction or removal of entitlement to DLA will be made solely on the evidence provided by the claimant—there will always be additional evidence to support the decision.

We have been liaising closely with organisations of and for disabled people from the early stages of the Project. This new initiative underlines our determination to act properly to get the benefit right and to listen and act upon any concerns. We will continue to involve these groups in the evaluation of the Project as it develops.

This Project is operating under the normal assessment and adjudication rules that are applied to all DLA cases. Anyone dissatisfied with a decision made in their case may ask for a review of that decision, on any grounds, within three months of the decision having been made. If they remain unhappy following review, they have the opportunity to appeal to an independent tribunal within three months of the review decision being made. Of course, a claimant may ask for a review of their entitlement at any time if they believe that there has been a change in their circumstances that may affect their entitlement to DLA.

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