The government has confirmed that it has changed the rules that previously stopped payment of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) when a child under 18 is in hospital for more than 12 weeks.

This means that families will no longer lose out on DLA/PIP payments if their child is in hospital for 84 days or more.

The change follows a Supreme Court victory last July by the family of Cameron Mathieson, who was five years old when he had his DLA payments stopped after spending more than 12 weeks in Alder Hey Hospital. The campaign to support the Mathiesons’ legal challenge was led by Contact a Family and The Children’s Trust and supported by Family Fund and other voluntary sector organisations. Cameron sadly died in 2012.

A statement from Contact a Family said “This is an enormous victory for our Stop the DLA Takeaway Campaign and everyone who supported it.”

“The law change is an incredible legacy for Cameron Mathieson. The campaign victory means that hundreds of families of the most disabled and poorly children will no longer be denied financial assistance when they need it most.”

“We'd like to say a huge thank you to all of the families and friends who supported our campaign and helped us achieve this monumental law change.”

“We'd also like to thank the Department for Work and Pensions officials who've worked with us to make this change in law a reality.”

Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive of Family Fund, said “We know from supporting over 2,500 families with urgent grants for hospital visiting costs last year that extended stays in hospital can mean weeks of stress and upset for families. This decision means that hundreds of families will have the security of knowing that they will still receive vital support during some of the most difficult times in their lives.”

“My congratulations to the family of Cameron Mathieson and Contact a Family for their passionate commitment over the last six years to achieve this change for families.”

Campaigner and Family Fund blogger Laura Rutherford said "Denying families the financial assistance of DLA when their child was so unwell was a rule that was weighted with unfairness and cruelty.”

“This change will make a huge difference to families, taking away some financial stress so that they can concentrate on the most important thing - caring for their child". 

What this means for families

Contact a Family state “So long as your son or daughter is aged under 18 when they become an inpatient, payments of DLA or PIP continue as normal while they are in hospital.”

“It does not matter how long they are in hospital for. You do not have to prove how much care you continue to provide to your child while in hospital, nor what extra costs you still incur - all children aged under 18 are exempt from the rules restricting payments in hospital.”

“If your child first claims DLA or PIP when they are in hospital, payments can start regardless of the fact that they are an inpatient. You do not need to wait until they return home for payments to begin. This is the case so long as they were under 18 when their period as an inpatient started.”

“When a child on DLA turns 16, they are normally invited to claim PIP instead. However, if your child is in hospital when they turn 16, their DLA payments should be temporarily extended and they will not be invited to claim PIP until they have left hospital.”

Read Contact a Family’s full guidance on ‘Payment of Disability Living Allowance for a child in hospital’.