§ Mr. Thurnham
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what changes he has recently made to benefits for disabled people and their carers.
§ Mr. Scott
We have already issued a quarter of a million disability living allowance claim packs—to people who are currently not entitled to benefit and to those who can now claim extra benefit. Our extensive TV and press advertising campaign has resulted in over 250,000 inquiries from people who want information about the new benefits. To them we have issued a specially designed colour-coded guide which not only explains the two new benefits but also covers the many other benefits available to disabled people.
We have also begun to take claims for the new benefit, disability working allowance which is aimed at disabled people who are able to work, but have limited earnings' potential. The first awards of the benefit have already been made.
We are shortly to make several other changes which will help disabled people and their carers.
We have today laid regulations that raise to £40 the limit on the weekly amount that a carer can earn without it affecting their entitlement to invalid care allowance. This means that the limit will have increased by over 200 per cent. in the last two years.
We have also laid regulations which will, from April, raise from 12 to 21 the number of hours of study that someone claiming invalid care allowance can undertake without it affecting their entitlement to that benefit.
Other regulations will be laid shortly to bring the residence and presence conditions for severe disability allowance into line, from April, with those which we have introduced for disability living allowance. This means the removal of the long-criticised "10 in 20 years" residence test.525W
I am also pleased to announce that I laid yesterday regulations which will allow disabled people, who receive either invalidity benefit or severe disability allowance, to serve for one day a week as members of the new disability appeal tribunals and receive the full fee for taking on that invaluable work—without it affecting their entitlement to those benefits.