Motability is an independent voluntary organisation that is responsible for the administration of the Motability contract hire scheme. My Department does not hold information on the number of Motability cars supplied in the past three years. That information may be obtained directly from Motability.
In the past five years, my Department transferred the following amounts to the Motability scheme: in 2006-07, the figure was £600,000; in 2007-08, it was £861,000; in 2008-09, it transferred £1,097,000; in 2009-2010, the figure dropped slightly to £1,058,000; and for 2010-11, it was £1,003,000. That gives us some indication of the scale of the Motability scheme in Northern Ireland.
I thank the Minister for his answer. Obviously, proposed changes to disability living allowance (DLA) will have an impact across the entire system, including Motability. Will the Minister outline what changes are being made to disability living allowance by the introduction of personal independence payments?
It is proposed that the personal independence payment will replace DLA for working age claimants from 2013-14, and it will be payable to people in and out of work.
Personal independence payments will be available to people who have a long-term health condition or impairment and will be closely targeted at disabled people in greatest need, supporting those who encounter the greatest difficulties in leading full and independent lives. There will be two components: a mobility component based on an individual’s ability to move around and a daily living component based on an individual’s ability to carry out a range of key everyday activities.
Entitlement will depend on the outcome of a new objective assessment, which will use evidence from claimants, independent healthcare professionals and other support workers to deliver more consistent outcomes and greater transparency for individuals. A number of current Northern Ireland DLA cases are being used in the development of the new assessment criteria, and those in the most difficult circumstances will continue to be supported by special rules for terminally ill people.
The Department for Work and Pensions Minister with responsibility for disability, Maria Miller, is in Northern Ireland tomorrow, and I will be meeting her to highlight the particular impacts that could potentially be felt by people in Northern Ireland as a result of the changes.
Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Does the Minister agree that the intention of the present assessment of DLA and of the proposed changes to DLA in the welfare reform legislation is to move as many people as possible off that benefit and that that will have a knock-on impact on the supply on much-needed forms of transport?
The Member is getting to the heart of the whole issue of welfare reform. I believe very much that there is a need for a reform of the welfare system, but that is not the same as welfare reform as envisaged by the coalition Government at Westminster.
There are certain things in the proposals around universal credit that are good, such as facilitating people back into work and removing the benefit trap, and we should recognise that. However, there are other things that are quite clearly intended by the coalition Government to be a cost-saving exercise. Removing those people from the benefit system is clearly a cost-saving measure on the part of the Government.
The Department’s role in the scheme is to provide the funding. It is a privately run scheme, and it certainly brings benefit to the individuals who receive the vehicles. I do not know what the outcome regarding the scheme will be in the longer term. We will have to wait and see. There have been examples of certain abuses of the system. We are all only too well aware of that, and it is something that needs to be borne in mind. However, in any system, you will always find people who are willing to abuse it.