WORK & PENSIONS – INCORRECT PAYMENTS – 28 February 2005

Dr Julian Lewis: I am very concerned about the Minister's response to my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Edward Leigh). He stated that the National Audit Office found mistakes in 50 per cent. of cases. The Minister's response was that only 8 per cent. of decisions are appealed, which suggests that more than 40 per cent. of people – some of the most vulnerable, who are on the DLA or Attendance Allowance – are receiving the wrong amount of money. Surely she should be taking a rather more urgent approach than she seems to be taking today?
 
[Maria Eagle: I deny that there is no urgency in the Department's response. The subjectivity of the DLA and Attendance Allowance – where our decision makers are trying to discover the impact of a condition or disability on the capacity of the individual either to look after themselves or to move around – means that the situation is inherently difficult to pin down. There is no doubt about that; I think that it would be acknowledged by everybody. It is a difficult process in which to make significant improvements, but that does not mean that we are not trying to do so. We are, and I hope that in future we will be able to make much more progress.]