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Invalidity Pension

Volume 33: debated on Tuesday 7 December 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Barking (Miss Richardson) on 5 July, Official Report, c. 25, if he will give further details of his Department's monitoring of the administrative arrangements for dealing with housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension claims;(2) pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Barking (Miss Richardson) on 5 July,

Official Report, c. 27, if he will give further details of his Department's monitoring of the working of the present rules governing entitlement to housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension.

The administrative arrangements and the working of the rules in relation to housewives' noncontributory invalidity pension are monitored by means of management checks and scrutiny and audit of awards. The decisions of the adjudicating authorities are also subject to an independent check. In addition, the Department keeps procedures and instructions to staff under review.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, pursuant to his reply to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, on 12 July, Official Report, c. 295, he will give the basis of his estimate that the gross cost of abolishing the household duties test was made up of (a) 240,000 additional non-contributory invalidity pension beneficiaries and (b) 140,000 child dependants.

The sources for the estimate were routine incapacity statistics and the survey "Handicapped and Impaired in Great Britain" by Amelia Harris published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office in 1971. I shall write to the right hon. Member giving details of the assumptions involved.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, pursuant to his reply to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South, on 12 July, Official Report, c. 295, what are the reasons for the difference between the estimate given by his Department to the National Insurance Advisory Committee that the cost of abolishing the household duties test would be £168 million—Cmnd. 7955, paragraph 44—and the estimate of £275 million in his reply on 12 July.

The figure of £168 million was the estimated net cost of paying 240,000 women noncontributory invalidity pension at the November 1979 rate of £14 a week, less an amount of savings from other social security benefits. The figure of £275 million was the estimated gross cost of paying 240,000 women noncontributory invalidity pension at the November 1981 rate of £17·75 a week and paying 140,000 child dependency additions at £7·70 a week. As I explained in my reply to the right hon. Member on 12 July—[Vol. 27, c. 295]—estimated savings from national insurance dependency additions would reduce the figure of £275 million to £250 million.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the current costs, expressed as a percentage of total expenditure on the benefit, of administering (a) non-contributory invalidity pension and (b) housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension.

The estimated cost in 1982–83 of administering non-contributory invalidity pension and housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension is of the order of £7 million, which is about 5 per cent. of total benefit expenditure. No reliable apportionment of actual administration costs between non-contributory invalidity pension and housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension is available. I shall, however, write to the right hon. Member in more detail on the subject of administration costs.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of women refused housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension on medical grounds have appealed to a National Insurance local tribunal in each of the past five years, expressed as a percentage of (a) all housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension applicants in that year and (b) all unsuccessful housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension applicants in that year.

Because of the special administrative arrangements that were made when the benefit was first introduced in November 1977 figures are not readily available for that year. Nor is it possible to separate claims disallowed on medical grounds from those disallowed on other grounds.The available information is as follows:

YearAppeals expressed as Percentage of new/renewal claims considered by insurance officerAppeals expressed as percentage of new/renewal claims disallowed by insurance officer for any reason
197834·588·2
197913·829·2
198013·627·6
198112·228·7

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of appeals against refusal of housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension are heard by national insurance local tribunals which (a) include at least one woman member and (b) are in premises which are inaccessible to a wheelchair user.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension applicants are examined by a general practitioner in their homes.

It is estimated that some 93 per cent. of all applicants for housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension currently have a medical examination. In every case the doctor is asked to conduct the examination in the applicant's own home. Claims are decided without medical examination when the applicant is receiving the higher rate of attendance allowance or is a long-stay hospital patient.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of all applicants for housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension during the first six months of 1982 gave up some form of paid employment (a) during the six months preceding their application, (b) between six and 12 months before their application, (c) between one and two years before their application, (d) between two and five years before their application and (e) between five and 10 years before their application.