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Invalid Care Allowance

Volume 124: debated on Friday 18 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what figures are available to indicate the number of people receiving invalid care allowance in Northern Ireland, the number of married women in Northern Ireland now receiving the allowance, the number of those who have received payments for arrears of benefit and the number of claims still to be processed.

At 15 December 1987 the number of people receiving invalid care allowance was 3,297, of whom 2,598 were married. Some 1,307 claims had still to be processed at that date. Information about the number of married woman who received arrears of benefit is not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what staffing arrangements were made to accommodate invalid care allowance claims from married women; and whether such arrangements have any effect on the processing of attendance allowance claims.

Attendance allowance and invalid care allowance (ICA) are independent benefits and are administered together by the attendance allowance branch of DHSS. Since August 1986, the staff complement of the branch has been increaed by 34 staff, of which 22 were allocated to deal with the influx of claims for ICA from married women and 12 to cope with the continuing increase in attendance allowance claims. The substantial increase in the volume of claims together with the inexperience of additional staff had an adverse effect initially on the time taken to process attendance allowance cases. While the position has now shown a marked improvement the provision of additional resources is being considered in order to ensure the further improvement of clearance times for both benefits.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what figures are available to indicate the number of claimants, by benefit, who have deductions made from their benefit in respect of their spouse's receipt of invalid care allowance;(2) what figures are available to indicate the number of married women claiming invalid care allowance who received no actual payments, or reduced payments, in respect of arrears for invalid care allowance claims due to their husband's receipt of other benefits over the period for which arrears would otherwise have been paid.

This information is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.