I thank the hon. Members for Edinburgh, West and for South-West Bedfordshire for their support for such important regulations. Let me address the issue of Northern Ireland. A corresponding provision will be made to cover people in Northern Ireland. As for how many people will benefit from the regulations, it is hard to estimate. We expect the numbers to be very low. None the less, I take seriously the comment of the hon. Member for South-West Bedfordshire that even for one person, this could make an important difference. Currently, there are more than 100 people receiving reduced ill-health payments. We expect only a small percentage of those people to meet the criteria for severe ill-health payments.
In addition, those benefiting from the new provisions will include a small number of people who are not currently eligible for reduced ill-health payments because, for instance, they are more than five years from their normal retirement age.
[Official Report, 17 March 2009, Tenth Delegated Legislation Committee c. 6.]
Letter of correction from Ms Rosie Winterton:
An error has been identified in the debate on the Draft Financial Assistance Scheme and Incapacity Benefit (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2009 on 17 March 2009. The Minister stated:
Ms Winterton: ...Currently, there are more than 100 people receiving reduced ill-health payments.
Ms Winterton: ...Currently, just over 60 people are receiving reduced ill-health payments.
The error arose because although more than 100 people have met the qualifying criteria for ill health payments, just over 40 of them decided not to proceed because of the amount of the actuarial reduction.