Disability Benefits for the Elderly

Part of Opposition Day — [1st allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 6:41 pm on 8th December 2009.

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Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Minister of State (Disabled People), Regional Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Disabled People), Department for Work and Pensions 6:41 pm, 8th December 2009

I am sure that my colleagues will listen closely to my arguments. The hon. Gentleman mentions the early-day motion, and it is interesting to note that Conservative Members laid great store by it. They have followed Bob Russell in that respect, yet despite that great store, only a paltry 16 of them could bring themselves to sign it until recently, as my hon. Friend Roger Berry quite rightly pointed out.

To return to the point I was making about the benefit streams and adult social care, what distinguishes them is that some are national and some are local; some are national means-tested and some local means-tested. It is our ambition to bring all of those within the ambit of allowing people to choose to spend how they want. A number of hon. Members characterised social care from the local authority as a very constrained way of allowing such flexibility, but I would say that they should find out what people are doing with direct payments from social care.

Let me give hon. Members an example. I recently attended a Mind event where a lady said that she had received direct payments as part of her individual budget. She had a mental health condition and she was using that resource to pay for dance classes, which were not organised by the local authority. By using that money, she found a new way of socialising, she learned to dance and it provided her a springboard on which to find her way back into work. She certainly will be able to continue to have such classes in the future, and I say that clearly-

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