Disability Benefits and Social Care

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:39 pm on 20th June 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East 3:39 pm, 20th June 2012

I do not disagree with the hon. Lady, in the sense that there has to be the flexibility to look at people’s exact circumstances. The point I wanted to make is that we need to impose some limitations, because the stress of having to go through the process is extremely great for some people, and their illness can be made worse.

Although I have taken interventions, and therefore have extra time, I do not want to take up too much time, because one or two other people still want to speak. The Minister who opened the debate would no doubt respond by saying that we are scaremongering—that what we have described will not come to pass under the test and that everything will be fine. Indeed, she has gone further than that. She has said on numerous occasions that one of the reasons for having a new benefit and not simply changing DLA is that people who currently do not qualify—people with communications difficulties, she has suggested, or people with mental health difficulties—will now qualify under the new benefit. That suggests that more people will be entitled to PIP. I want to know how she can square that with making savings of the size that the Government say they want. If more people who do not currently receive the benefit will qualify, that suggests that even more people will claim than at the moment.

The Minister has also said that we should not worry about the tests because they are going to be a “conversation”, and are not really going to be a test. She has also said that we should not worry about the time limits on tests because a test should take as long as it takes. That all sounds wonderful, but I would like to know—the Minister has to answer for us—how it squares with cutting costs. Indeed, it will add to the administration costs, so is that included in the contract with providers? We do not really know what the terms of the contract are, and if those things are not in the contract, they will not happen. Therefore, for all the warm words about having conversations, being relaxed and the tests taking as long as they take, what the Minister has described will simply not happen unless we are given clarity on whether it is in the contract.