Select Committee on Social Security Third Report


1. We welcome the announcement that initially the new system "will exclude DLA recipients whose cases were examined by the Benefit Integrity Project" (paragraph 4).

2. We welcome the Government's commitment to consultation through the Disability Benefits Forum and "to continue working closely with disabled people and their organisations to make sure that appropriate arrangements are put in place" (paragraph 5).

3. The Government should consult with as wide a range of disability organisations as possible to ensure that the needs of disabled people are understood fully (paragraph 5).

4. We welcome the fact that the new process "will be evaluated after six months of operation and the findings used to continue to improve the process to make it more sensitive to the circumstances of the individual contacted". We recommend that the evaluation of the new process should include consultation with those affected and that its findings should be published (paragraph 7).

5. We recommend that the needs of people with sensory disabilities and the needs of people for whom English is an additional language should be addressed in the arrangements for a new system of checking DLA claims (paragraph 8).

6. We recommend that once estimates of costs and savings have been made they should be made public, showing the likely reduction in savings and increase in administration costs (paragraph 13).

7. We recommend that the Government should make it clear that the new system will not be focussed on fraud. Any future initiative based on suspected fraud in DLA should be separate as far as is practicable from the new arrangements for checking claims (paragraph 14).

8. Given the specific nature of DLA and the low incidence of fraud, we recommend that the DSS should consult the National Audit Office to review the methodology and accuracy of their savings estimates in relation to DLA (paragraph 15).

9. We agree that the checking of all cases where there is going to be a reduction or removal of the benefit is a welcome change (paragraph 17).

10. We endorse the Minister's aim of "making certain at the outset that the award is correct and then taking action to ensure that it remains correct" (paragraph 17).

11. It is essential that the findings of the Chief Adjudication Officer's examination of the quality of decision making in BIP are taken account of in the new arrangements for checking DLA claims (paragraph 18).

12. We recommend that the Government should continue to liaise with the Disablement Income Group and with the Disability Benefits Forum on the timetable and content of the new training arrangements. The Government should ask the Disablement Income Group to carry out a review of the new training arrangements once they are in place, and the results of this review should be published (paragraph 21).

13. We recommend that priority should be placed on clearing the backlog of appeals arising from the Benefit Integrity Project as soon as possible (paragraph 23).

14. We recommend that the Government, in conjunction with the Disability Benefits Forum, should hold discussions with the BMA about the levels of fees for consultations with GPs in connection with DLA (paragraph 29).

15. Given the continuing high number of life awards, we welcome the Government's intention "to amend the legislation so that the term 'life award' does not appear in the future, once the changes are in place" (paragraph 30).

16. We recommend that the Government should consider extending the work on take-up of Income Support among pensioners to Disability Living Allowance and that different approaches to take-up should be discussed with the Disability Benefits Forum (paragraph 31).

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