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1979-1987 : Mr Major’s Written Parliamentary Answer on Severe Disability Premium

Below is the text of Mr Major's written Parliamentary Answer on Severe Disability Premium on 2nd March 1987.


Mr. Alfred Morris Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will define the term household for the purposes of eligibility for the severe disability premium; and if the presence of (a) an adult lodger or (b) an adult subtenant of the claimant will disqualify the claimant from the premium;

(2) if a disabled person receiving attendance allowance will be eligible for the severe disability premium if the only other adult member of the household is unable to provide assistance to that person on account of age or disability;

(3) if a disabled person receiving attendance allowance will be eligible for the severe disability premium for weeks in which the only other adult member of the household is absent from home;

(4) if the presence in the household of a student over 18 years in full-time education for whom no non-dependent deduction from housing benefit is currently made will disqualify a disabled person in receipt of attendance allowance from the severe disability premium;

(5) if a disabled person receiving attendance allowance will be eligible for the severe disability premium for weeks in which the only other adult member of the household has an infectious illness and would endanger the life of the disabled person if he or she provided the care and assistance required by that person.

Mr. Major [pursuant to his reply, 22 January 1987, c. 711–12]: The intention is that the severe disability premium would not be payable if, among other conditions, the claimant had a partner or a non-dependant over the age of 18 living in the same household. The only exception to this would be where the other person was receiving attendance allowance. The circumstances or age of the non-dependant or partner would not otherwise be relevant. It would also not be subject to whether or not a housing benefit non-dependant deduction was actually made, so the presence in the household of a student over 18 treated as a non-dependant would normally debar someone from receiving the premium. In deciding whether or not someone was to be regarded as a non-dependant, either for housing benefit purposes or in order to determine eligibility for the severe disability premium, it would be necessary to establish whether he or she was a member of the same household as the claimant. Where they did not reside together because, for example, one was a sub-tenant living in self-contained accommodation (including separate cooking but not necessarily separate bathroom facilities) they would not be regarded as being members of the same household, and one would not therefore be classified as a non-dependant in relation to the other. Where they did reside together, as might, for example, be the case with a lodger, they would normally be treated as members of the same household unless the arrangement between them was on a purely commercial basis and they were not close relatives.

People would normally be regarded as still members of the same household during short absences, particularly if there was an intention to return. Where this was not the case, the claim would be reassessed.

Finally, a person employed by a charity or other organisation (but not a local authority) who lived with the claimant in order to care for him or his partner would not be regarded as a non-dependent where a charge was made for the service by the organisation concerned.

We intend that the draft housing benefit regulations which have been issued to the local authority associations for consultation will be amended to make these points clear.

We are separately assessing alternative proposals to the severe disability premium put to us by organisations representing disabled people.