31st July 2020, 20:46
Parliament has discussed a perceived lack of transparency and inconsistencies in the way in which disability benefits are awarded.
Opposition MP Daniel Feetham brought a Private Members Motion which was amended by Minister for Social Security Gilbert Licudi and unanimously passed.
Mr Feetham called for the consultation process, the qualifying test and the criteria for the disability benefit to be placed on a statutory footing, and said everyone who is registered as disabled should receive it.
Mr Licudi confirmed that a review of the system is already under way, but nevertheless highlighted improvements made over the years by the Government.
The Opposition MP brought his proposal for changes to be made to the way Disability Benefit is awarded to Parliament, but with little confidence that his motion would be successful.
Nevertheless, Daniel Feetham said it was important to vocalise the difficulties experienced by some people with profound disabilities, whom he claimed had been denied the benefit.
As well as a lack of clarity and transparency, he said the qualifying criteria is not published anywhere and is inconsistently applied. He highlighted several case studies, and said there is such disparity in the system, that genuine cases are being rejected.
Mr Feetham made 5 key proposals which include placing the test and consultation process for the benefit on a statutory footing, with published criteria; he said there should be one overarching test; and he said the test for disability benefit should be the same one as that under the definition of disabled under the Act. Lastly he called for one central register for the disabled.
The GSD MP appealed to the Government to spend a little more money to provide a safety net to those who were in genuine need.
Replying, the Minister for Social Security said Mr Feetham should not be so 'defeatist'. He confirmed a review of the system is already under way but nevertheless highlighted improvements made in 2012 and 2015 which meant more people can now access the benefit. Mr Licudi also revealed that there had been a 200% increase in the overall budget for the benefit in 8 years of Government.
He proposed to amend Mr Feetham's the motion to include these elements and said he would consider the process of awarding the benefit on a statutory footing.
After a lengthy discussion, the amended motion was passed unanimously.