England

Warrington family in Supreme Court over 'grossly unfair' ruling

Mathieson family and campaigners outside Supreme Court
Image caption Cameron's father Craig Mathieson (pictured) said a victory could help hundreds of families in a similar situation

A "grossly unfair" rule which limits welfare payments to severely disabled children in hospital is being disputed by a family at the Supreme Court.

Benefits for Cameron Mathieson, five, stopped after he spent more than 12 weeks in Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool.

Government guidelines state Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is not payable after the first 84 days.

Craig Mathieson said a ruling in his family's favour would help up to 500 other children and their relatives.

Cameron, from Warrington, Cheshire died in October 2012 after a long battle with cystic fibrosis and Duchenne's muscular dystrophy.

He spent more than two years of his life in hospital.

Supporters of the Mathieson family took part in a demonstration outside the court before the hearing.

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Image caption Cameron Mathieson spent more than two years in Alder Hey Hospital

Mr Mathieson said his family was challenging "this grossly unfair rule in Cameron's name".

"If the decision goes the way we hope it will, that would be a fantastic legacy for Cameron - that 500 other children like him every year benefit from his having been here."

Children's charities Contact a Family and Children's Trust have backed the Mathiesons' challenge which they say affects around 500 families across the country.

Amanda Batten from Contact a Family said: "We're talking about families of the most sick and severely disabled children.

"The rule that they are challenging takes away financial support from those families just when they need it most."

Jackie Spiegel from Camden went to the Supreme Court to take part in the demonstration.

"We're here to support the Mathieson family whose story really rings with my own, about having a disabled child who is in hospital a lot," she said.

"And they are an amazing family to fight the fight after their child has sadly passed away."

The Department for Work and Pensions has previously said that DLA is "paid to help people who are unable to walk or virtually unable to walk or do things like wash and dress themselves".

"After a child is looked-after free of charge in hospital for nearly three months, we put payment of their DLA on hold because their needs are already being met by the NHS."

The Supreme Court judges will give their ruling at a later date.

Image caption Members of the 'Stop the DLA Takeaway' campaign gathered outside the Supreme Court to show their support

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