HC Deb 02 April 2001 vol 366 c84W
21. Mr. Amess

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the impact of means testing on Incapacity Benefit. [154879]

Mr. Bayley

We think it is right that some account should be taken of pensions which duplicate the purpose of Incapacity Benefit—to provide some replacement of earnings. The changes will not affect people in receipt of Incapacity Benefit on the date change, 6 April 2001, and will not affect four in five people who become eligible for Incapacity Benefit after this date. Of the people affected, nearly half will have pensions which will take them above the national average income.

As well as making this change we will provide greater support and security through such initiatives as our carers' package of extra help worth £500 million over three years, the Disability Income Guarantee that will help the poorest severely disabled adults, and families with severely disabled children, the increase in the disabled child premium in income-related benefits, the extension of Incapacity Benefit to people disabled early in life who have not had the opportunity to earn and pay National Insurance contributions and the extension of Disability Living Allowance higher rate mobility component to three and four-year-old children.

38. Mr. Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what progress he has made in reducing the number of pensioners and families on means-tested benefits. [154897]

Angela Eagle

The Welfare State has always used means-tested benefits as part of a complementary mixture of provision alongside contributory and universal benefits. Each plays a part in meeting people's needs. Spending on income-related benefits amounted to 34 per cent. of overall benefit expenditure in 1997–98. Next year we expect this proportion to decrease to 29 per cent.