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Disability Living Allowance/Motability

Volume 563: debated on Monday 20 May 2013

11. What steps he is taking to publicise the potential effects of planned regulation changes on claimants currently in receipt of (a) the disability living allowance higher rate and (b) Motability cars. (155869)

We wrote to every DLA claimant earlier this year, as well as holding stakeholder engagement events and MPs’ events. Online, there is a personal independence payment checker and a PIP toolkit. As the hon. Lady asks specifically about the highest rates of both components, I am sure that she will pleased to know that we have increased those rates under PIP from 16% to 23%, which is an increase of seven percentage points.

It came as a great shock to my constituents that the new regulations will see the removal of the Motability lease payments after 28 days of a person’s being in hospital. Will the Minister explain why she is prepared to leave disabled people worried about going into hospital and potentially losing their Motability car, losing their deposit and having to restart the whole process when they come out? They will be worried about what it will mean for them to reapply for a new car with new adaptations that requires a new deposit. Additional administration will fall on the Department for Work and Pensions, so who will bear the cost incurred when the exclusively and specifically adapted Motability cars have to be returned—

Order. I think that the hon. Lady’s essay —perhaps even her thesis—has been completed.

Obviously, I do not know the specific details of the case, but when somebody is in hospital for a long time they will not need the Motability car. However, every case is taken on its specifics and everything is dealt with in the most sensitive way. That has always been the case with Motability cars.

A constituent with a severely disabled daughter who is dependent on disability living allowance and a Motability car came to see me. Will my hon. Friend assure me that my constituent will be entitled to an appeal before those things are arbitrarily removed?

At the moment, we are considering working age people and that is where the changes are happening, so we would not be specifically considering the case my hon. Friend mentions. However, if she is talking about what happens at the end of a fixed-term period for which the child has entitlement, the assessment would be the same as it always was for DLA. The focus of the reforms is to ensure that the billions of pounds we are spending every year—a figure that is going up over this Parliament—will be focused on those who most need it.

The Minister really needs to look at the specifics of this. Her regulations have changed: a person in hospital will now lose their higher mobility rate after four weeks, instead of 13 weeks. Their Motability car will have to go back, even though they may have spent thousands of pounds on adaptations to it. The Minister really has to look at how her regulations have changed.

Obviously, I do indeed look at those regulations, but, as I said, every case is looked at on a case-by-case basis, to see what is required in that specific instance.

The Minister and the Secretary of State have recently been found out using figures that show a dramatic increase in the number of people receiving disability living allowance. To quote the Secretary of State, they wanted

“to get in early, get ahead of it”—

that is, the PIP. However, Department for Work and Pensions statistics show that there was a significant decrease in the number of working-age people—that is, those affected by the changes—getting the benefit, so much so that The Economist said:

“Over the past few months…questionable numbers have floated out of Iain Duncan Smith’s office into the public debate like raw sewage.”

Those are the words of The Economist, not mine. Will the Minister take this opportunity to correct the figures on the record, and to resolve to use accurate figures only? As The Economist puts it,

“they shouldn’t manipulate…and distort”

figures

“to tell stories that aren’t actually true.”

I will put on record that we do use correct figures. We use the right figures, and we make sure that people know exactly what is happening, because that is only right. We are dealing with the most vulnerable people in society, and it is only right that they get the correct information. We will continue doing that.