Modernising the Social Security System is one of this Government's key priorities. We are committed to ensuring that the benefits system is accessible to all the Department's clients.
The publicity of existing disability benefits is an operational matter for Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from David Riggs to Mr. Steve Webb, dated 15 December 1997:The Secretary of State for Social Security asked Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency, to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what plans she has to increase awareness of existing disability benefits amongst people with sensory disabilities. As Mr. Mathison is away from the office on leave, I am replying.The Benefits Agency aims to ensure that all customers have equality of access to the benefits system. We provide information in alternative formats for people with disabilities, including information for deaf, blind and partially sighted people.For blind and partially sighted people we currently produce information in braille, large print and on audio cassette. A new edition of FB19, A guide for blind and partially sighted people— social security benefits, will be available for customers in January 1998. Also, in April 1998 we will be re-launching our series of videos for deaf people which will be presented using British Sign Language (BSL) and will be subtitled.These products are produced in consultation with customer representative organisations in order to ensure that they provide the best possible access for customers with specialist needs. We evaluate and develop these products continuously.The recently announced overhaul of benefits literature will of course encompass material for people with sensory disabilities and consideration of the most appropriate alternative formats.I hope that you find this reply helpful.