HC Deb 30 November 1999 vol 340 cc90-1W
Mr. Hammond

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to allow people with severe and enduring mental illness, who have been discharged from hospital and whose circumstances remain unchanged, to claim Disability Living Allowance and severe disablement premium without having to complete any additional forms. [99877]

Mr. Bayley

Scope already exists for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants discharged from hospital on a long-term or indefinite basis to have their benefit reinstated on a weekly basis, providing they notify the DLA unit of their discharge, and providing there is no change to their care and mobility needs. Reinstatement cannot however be automatic; much will depend on the circumstances of the individual case. For example, a person who has been discharged from hospital may have greater or lesser care needs than they had before they were admitted and this could alter the rate of benefit to which they are entitled.

We recognise the special problems that people with mental health problems face when dealing with the benefits system. We are currently looking at different ways of gathering information necessary to deal with claims for DLA that will place less reliance on lengthy forms, allow more face to face contact with claimants, and develop a system which is more sensitive to the needs of individual disabled people. As part of this, we have been working with organisations representing people with mental health problems to address particular concerns about DLA periodic inquiries. Discussions have been constructive, and are being taken forward in a revised approach, which we believe should lead to an improved service for such people.