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Disabled Children (Benefits)

Volume 508: debated on Wednesday 7 April 2010

3. When he last discussed with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the benefits provided for disabled children and their families in Scotland. (325088)

Good morning, Mr. Speaker.

The Government are totally committed to supporting disabled children and their families. I discuss these matters and welfare reform with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Does my right hon. Friend recall that one of the most shameful episodes in the history of social services in Scotland was when the Scottish Government accepted £34 million that was allocated for disabled children and their families and used it to give to local councils to keep council tax steady? Will he continue to consult with colleagues so that never again can we have such a distortion of the Barnett formula, and never again can we trust those who claim to speak for Scotland and attack the most vulnerable?

Scottish National party Members are shouting at my right hon. Friend, but over many years he has established an impeccable record among others across the House through his campaigning for families with disabled children. His criticism is therefore all the more valid. It is a matter of cross-party consensus that we should all try and do as much as we can to support families with disabled children. It is pretty shameful that the £34 million that was meant to go towards supporting the NHS in helping disabled children in Scotland went into a big black hole created by the SNP.

The Secretary of State will realise that this has been an excessively cold winter in Scotland, and that one of the challenges for people with disabilities is their need for extra heating in their homes. In his discussions with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has he therefore pressed the case for extending the winter fuel payment to people with disability and on disability benefits?

We continue to keep all these things under review. Last year we made some important changes to winter fuel payments for pensioners across Scotland, almost trebling the amounts involved, and we have announced further changes in support of families with disabled children. The Government have announced that people with severe visual impairment will become entitled to the higher-rate mobility component of disability living allowance from April next year. That is after a campaign supported by Members of Parliament of all parties and the Royal National Institute of Blind People. We continue to look for other ways to support families with disabled children.