HC Deb 22 March 1999 vol 328 c106W
Mr. Burstow

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) for what period disability living allowance recipients whose cases were examined by the Benefit Integrity Project will be excluded from the new checking regime; [77889]

(2) what estimates he has made of the likely level of savings or increased expenditure arising from the new disability allowance review regime. [77891]

Mr. Bayley

We are committed to achieving a coherent, fair and sensitive system for the delivery of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This will encompass new methods of claiming and periodic inquiry arrangements to be applied ultimately to all cases in payment. The Benefits Agency is working to establish the proper frequency with which individuals should be asked about their current needs so that, in the future, inquiries can be made at the most appropriate time and new claimants can be advised from the outset when inquiries are likely to be made in their case. Developmental work is well underway, in consultation with organisations of, and for, disabled people.

As a first step in the process, a prototype periodic inquiry system will be introduced in April 1999 for existing DLA cases, followed in the Summer by trials to test new ways of handling claims for DLA and Attendance Allowance (AA). Both strands of work will be closely monitored and evaluated. Developments and data from each strand will be used to design the final overall process.

People whose cases were examined under the Benefit Integrity Project (BIP) will not, at the outset, be subject to the new periodic inquiry arrangements. Once the full new system is introduced, they are likely to be allocated a periodic inquiry frequency on the same basis as new claimants for DLA and AA. It is, however, too early to provide details.

We have made it clear that the main objective of these changes is to ensure that benefit is being paid properly. They are not savings driven. There will be additional administrative costs as the new inquiry process develops. The effect of the new processes on programme spending will be factored into the expenditure forecasts in the normal way.