HC Deb 20 July 2000 vol 354 cc273-4W
Mr. Tynan

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the difficulties facing individuals who suffer from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in seeking to qualify for Disability Living Allowance. [131219]

Mr. Bayley

Entitlement to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is based on a person's needs, and not in recognition of their specific medical condition. People with multiple sclerosis, as with other potentially disabling conditions, are therefore asked to state their care and mobility needs arising from their condition when completing a DLA claim form. Decision makers are given information on the needs arising from disabilities, including multiple sclerosis, in the "Disability Handbook", which is compiled by senior doctors in the Department and approved and monitored by the Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board.

With conditions such as remitting-relapsing multiple sclerosis, decision makers must consider the help required over a period of time. Due to the variable nature of this condition, the Disability Handbook advises decision makers that a medical report may be helpful where a person's needs over a period of time are unclear.

If someone claiming DLA is dissatisfied with the decision on their application (including on the grounds that the decision does not adequately recognise a fluctuating condition), they can ask for it to be looked at again or they can appeal the decision to an independent tribunal.

We are exploring alternatives to the current tests for DLA. Following discussions with groups representing disabled people, we have developed a possible approach based on an assessment of activities involved in managing life. We plan to commence trialling this early next year, to see if it would lead to a better system.

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