It is still our intention to complete the phasing-in of the mobility allowance scheme by the end of 1979, even though we shall now be giving the allowance to an estimated 20,000 extra women aged between 60 and 65.
Now that the phasing-in will be completed within approximately 12 months, can the Minister give any indication of the possibility of extending mobility allowance to those over 65 years, in view of the fact that there is no criterion attached to the scheme that a person is employable or not, and that there are many more people over 65 years who have problems with mobility than those under 65 years?
We recognise the importance of mobility to elderly disabled people, but it is estimated that an additional 500,000 could qualify, at an added cost of £260 million a year, if there were no upper age limit. There are infinite claims and finite resources. We shall build as quickly as we can on what we have achieved so far.
I recognise the great work that my hon. Friend has done for old people, but may I ask him to use his best efforts to ensure that the time will not be far off when the mobility allowance will be available to everyone, irrespective of his or her age, no matter how old he or she may be? I can assure him, now that I am getting towards my seventieth year, that old people need far more than young people.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He will have noticed that under the provisions of the Bill now before the House we are providing the mobility allowance for disabled women between 60 and 65. At the same time, we are allowing elderly people to keep the allowance up to 75. There is very much more to do and I shall certainly want to see further progress as soon as resources allow.
Will the Minister ensure that those who are in work, and who are considering surrendering their trike in order to obtain a mobility allowance and then a car through the Motability scheme, are made aware of the very long period during which they may be without any vehicle at all? Has he any guidance for those people?
The aim will be to ensure that there is no hiatus. Motability is being as helpful as possible. I have tried to spread information about the new scheme and what it provides as widely as I can. I shall go on informing people of the options available to them. At the same time, I shall try to avoid any possibility of disabled people being left without transport.