HC Deb 12 February 2004 vol 417 cc1588-9W
John Barrett

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of(a) the interaction between income support and disability benefits, (b) the complexity of this interaction and (c) whether eligible recipients are deterred from claiming disability related benefits by the complexity of the process. [153379]

Mr. Pond

Income support is intended to help people whose resources are insufficient to meet their day-to-day living expenses; it provides extra support to meet the needs of disabled customers with the automatic award of disability premiums. In addition, disability benefits, such as disability living allowance and attendance allowance, are fully disregarded.

Jobcentre Plus has worked to enhance services with the use of electronic interfaces; a new interface between disability living allowance and income support has been developed in order to improve services to those who claim both benefits. It is intended that the new interface will be put into operation later this year.

We do not believe these arrangements deter people eligible for benefit from taking up their entitlement.

Mr. Goodman

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much was spent by his Department on incapacity benefit pilots in 2003; and what his estimate is of expenditure on such pilots in 2004; [153390]

(2) how much his Department will spend on incapacity benefit pilots in 2005. [153392]

Maria Eagle

"Pathways to Work—Helping People into Employment" Cm 5690 set out a strategy for enabling people on incapacity benefits to move into work. The first tranche of three pilot areas (Bridgend and Rhondda Cynon Taff, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, Argyll and Bute, and Derbyshire) went live from October 2003. The second tranche of areas (Gateshead and South Tyneside, Somerset, Essex, and East Lancashire) are on track to go live in April.

Spending Review 2002 announced just under £100 million in additional funds for these pilots (£15 million for 2003–04 and £41 million for each of 2004–05 and 2005–06). £3.9 million was spent in the period April 2003 to December 2003; we estimate expenditure will be £7.45 million for January 2004 to March 2004, and £42.6 million for April 2004 to March 2005. These estimates include running costs, learning and development costs for personal advisers and other staff, the return to work credit, the NHS condition management programmes, and marketing and publicity costs.