§ Mr. Coaker
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the Government's plans to abolish Severe Disablement Allowance. 
§ Mr. Bayley
The reform of Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) will refocus benefit on people disabled early in life who have never had the opportunity to work and gain entitlement to incapacity benefits through the payment of contributions.
At present, the poorest 70 per cent. of those receiving SDA also receive Income Support (IS). The IS rules require every pound of their SDA to be deducted from their IS so, in practice, they receive no benefit from SDA.
From April 2001, young disabled people under 20 (or 25 if they were in education or training that continued beyond their 20th birthday) will be given access to Incapacity Benefit without having to satisfy the normal contribution conditions. Based on current rates, they will gain up to £26.70 a week. No new SDA claims will be accepted but existing recipients will be protected and will continue to receive SDA for as long as they continue to satisfy the conditions of entitlement. In addition there are special linking periods of eight weeks, one year and two years for people who leave SDA before April 2001 to try work or training which would allow them to return to SDA if they are still within their linking period.
§ Mr. Boswell
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many(a) new claims and (b) awards of Severe Disablement Allowance there were in each of the last 18 months. 97W
§ Mr. Bayley
The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.
Severe Disablement Allowance, new claims and awards New claims received (Number) Spells commencing December 1998 2,896 1,900 January 1999 3,527 1,100 February 1999 3,857 1,100 March 1999 4,227 1,300 April 1999 3,342 1,100 May 1999 3,318 600 June 1999 3,916 800 July 1999 4,228 800 August 1999 3,910 700 September 1999 4,064 1,300 October 1999 4,354 1,000 November 1999 4,377 1,100 December 1999 3,016 1,300 January 2000 3,548 1,000 February 2000 4,155 600 March 2000 4,692 1,200 April 2000 3,481 1,100 May 2000 3,913 800
1. New claims figures are a 100 per cent. count from Central Data Unit.
2. Awards figures are taken from a 5 per cent. scan of the benefit computer system and excludes a small number of cases held clerically. These figures are shown in thousands and have been rounded to the nearest hundred.
3. Awards in a particular month do not necessarily relate to claims received in that month.