‘Change rules over benefits’, demands mum

Julie Potter-Tate and her son Daniel.

Julie Potter-Tate and her son Daniel.

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An Ilkeston mum has called for the Government to change an ‘unfair’ rule to stop benefit payments after children spend a long time in hospital.

For the last 20 years the Govenrment has suspended payments of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to parents when a child has spent more than 84 days in hospital.

Julie Potter-Tate’s six-year-old son Daniel suffers from a sever windpipe problem called tracheomalacia and has spent two years and nine months in hospital.

She said: “During this time we acquired around £13,000 worth of debt. The financial strain was overwhelming.

“It’s about time the government realised that parents don’t leave their children at the hospital door and then go home.

“DLA is vital for families like ours to keep our heads above water at what is already a stressful time.”

Charities Contact A Family and The Children’s Trust published the results of a survey of 104 families with disabled children last week, which they said showed that 99 per cent of families provide more or the same level of care when their child is in hospital than when they are at home.

Dalton Leong, chief executive of The Children’s Trust, said: “Current DLA regulations mean that some of the UK’s most severely disabled and sick children are being denied financial assistance at a time when they need it most.

“Suspending a child’s DLA also leads to the parents losing their carer’s allowance and in some cases other benefits. This can prove financially devastating for families with severely disabled children who are often in and out of hospital.

“We urge the government to stand by its commitment to protect the most vulnerable people in our society by abolishing this rule at the earliest opportunity while it is reforming the benefits system for under-16s.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman responded: “Our sympathies are with these families during what is obviously a very difficult time.

“Disability Living Allowance 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.

“We continue to spend over £13bn on this benefit and this will increase over the lifetime of this Government.”