CHILDREN’S charities are calling on the Government to act urgently on the recent Supreme Court ruling that said it was wrong to stop disability benefits to a Warrington family while their son was in hospital.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that taking away Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from the Mathieson family, whose disabled child, Cameron, had been in Alder Hey hospital for more than 84 days was in breach of his human rights and unlawful.
The ruling will have a significant impact on the estimated 500 families with severely disabled children who spend time in hospital undergoing treatment.
Contact a Family and The Children’s Trust are now calling for the government to issue guidance to ensure that similar unlawful decisions are not made and scrap the rule that says that DLA should be suspended when a child has been in hospital for more than 84 days.
In a joint statement the charities said: “The Supreme Court judgement is absolutely incredible and a groundbreaking victory for the family who have fought tirelessly on behalf of some of the most severely disabled children in the UK who require hospital treatment.
“The judgement shows that the court understands that many parents provide extra care that even the best equipped hospitals can’t give and have substantial costs – such as loss of earnings, travel and meal expenses, parking fees and childcare costs for siblings.
“This is great news for families of disabled children across the UK. We now call on the Government to scrap this unfair rule once and for all. Families affected by the rule should seek advice about using this judgement to ask that their DLA payments restart.”
Cameron spent more than two years in hospital with cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. His family acted as full time carers at the hospital until the five year-old’s death, in October 2012.
The Government had argued that DLA is stopped when a child spends 84 days plus in hospital because their care needs are fully met free of charge by the NHS.
However, research carried out by Contact a Family and The Children’s Trust who have been supporting the Mathiesons shows that of 104 families affected by the rule:
99% said they provided more or the same level of care when their child is in hospital, compared to when their child is at home.
93% said that their costs relating to their child’s disability increased when their child is in hospital.