HC Deb 15 April 2002 vol 383 cc698-9W
32. Mr. Barnes

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department is doing to tackle poverty among disabled people. [45046]

Mr. Ben Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to tackle poverty among disabled people. [45040]

Maria Eagle

We are committed to the principle of work for those who can and security for those who are unable to work. We are promoting the rights of disabled people, making work pay and helping more disabled people to get and keep jobs.

This month we have established Jobcentre Plus which will deliver a single, integrated, work-focused service to people of working age claiming benefits. Those making new or repeat claims to incapacity benefit in integrated Jobcentre Plus offices are required to attend a work-focused meeting. These meetings provide disabled people with the opportunity to discuss with their personal adviser the help, benefits and opportunities available to them, including the opportunity to participate in the New Deal programmes.

A disabled person working a minimum of 35 hours a week who claims the disabled person's tax credit is now guaranteed an income of at least £172 a week. By the end of October 2001 disabled person's tax credit was boosting the incomes of over 32,000 working people. From this month we have abolished the earnings limits in the independent living funds——both for these severely disabled people and their partners. At the same time we have extended help to people with savings of up to £18,500 by increasing capital limits in the funds.

We are also providing security for those who cannot work. The disability income guarantee helps around 130,000 of the poorest severely disabled people under 60 and some 34,000 families with severely disabled children. We have extended the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance to severely disabled three and three-year-olds benefiting an estimated 6,000 severely disabled children every year. And from this month we have raised the disabled child premium in the income-related benefits to £35.50 a week giving an additional £5 on top of normal uprating. This will benefit around 80,000 children in the neediest families.