HC Deb 28 October 2002 vol 391 cc646-7W
Mr. MacDougall

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the basis is of his policy on payment to people who become disabled over the age of 65 years of the mobility component attached to disability benefits; [76031]

(2) what the basis is for the difference in the qualifying period for old claimants and younger claimants for disability benefits. [76035]

Maria Eagle

[holding answer 21 October 2002]Disability living allowance and attendance allowance are designed to provide a contribution towards the extra costs associated with severe disability. The benefits are assessed by looking at the disabled person's care needs and, in the case of disability living allowance, mobility needs.

Disability living allowance was introduced in 1992 by bringing together the separate attendance and mobility allowances into a single benefit, which gave additional help to severely disabled people under age 65 for whom disability is more financially disruptive in terms of lost opportunity to earn and save.

The vast majority of people can expect to have some restrictions as they get older and it is reasonable to expect people to make provision for this. Attendance allowance continues to be available for severely disabled people aged 65 or over who need help with personal care.

Disability living allowance unified and simplified the six months qualifying test inherited from attendance allowance and the 12-month prospective qualifying test inherited from mobility allowance by providing that a severely disabled person must have satisfied the entitlement conditions throughout the past three months and be likely to continue to satisfy them throughout the next six months.

Attendance allowance retains a six month qualifying period because a prospective test is less likely to be relevant to the disabilities—often degenerative—suffered by older people.

The Government believe that this broad framework is fair and sensible, and in particular that it is right to give the most help to those who are severely disabled early in life and who may face limited opportunities to work and save.

Mr. Simon Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to allow recipients of disability living allowance to receive these benefits in another European Union country. [76268]

Maria Eagle

Disability living allowance is a non-contributory benefit designed to complement the substantial range of other help available to severely disabled people in the United Kingdom. It has always been Government policy, therefore, that it should be available only to people who normally reside here.

Disability living allowance is listed as a 'special non-contributory' benefit in EEC Regulation 1408/71. Such benefits are granted exclusively in the member state in which a person resides. People covered by the regulation can access any special non-contributory benefits, which are available in their country of residence.