§ Richard Burden
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will make a statement on the entitlement to passported help available to claimants who have received the higher rate of incapacity benefit for over 12 months; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the effects of recent changes to the long rate incapacity benefit. 
§ Mr. Nicholas Brown
We have reformed Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) in order to provide more support to young people disabled early in life who have never had the opportunity to work.
From 6 April 2001 young people whose incapacity begins before the age of 20 (or 25 for those continuing in education until age 20) may qualify for IB even if they have not satisfied the contribution conditions. Existing SDA recipients under the age of 20 on 6 April 2001 were automatically transferred to long-term IB in April 2002. We estimate that around 175,000 young people will benefit from the change over time.
Depending on their circumstances people receiving IB can qualify for help with the cost of NHS treatment on the grounds of low income. They may also be entitled to 636W Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Social Fund crisis loans are available to people who are without resources, irrespective of their benefit status, to prevent serious damage or risk to health or safety in the event of an emergency or a disaster. A variety of local government schemes and benefits are also available to people on low incomes. Details of these schemes are not held centrally.
We recognise that some young people who transfer from SDA to IB will no longer have automatic entitlement to this help but many in this group will already be considerably better off as a result of the changes we have introduced and it would be unfair to treat these people differently to other IB recipients.