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Supreme Court backs Warrington family's benefits challenge

The Supreme Court's judged the rules on disability benefits are wrong, after a legal challenge by a Warrington family.

The parents of Cameron Mathieson took legal action when their son's Disability Living Allowance was stopped, because he'd spent more than 84 days in hospital.

They argued that withholding the money breached his human rights, because it discriminated against him on the grounds of his extremely poor health.

Cameron had complex health problems, and died in 2012 aged five.

He suffered from cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy, and spent around half of his life in Liverpool's Alder Hey Hospital.

Today the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that Cameron should have been entitled to DLA beyond his 84th day in hospital.

This is the first time ever that either  the Supreme Court or its predecessor the House of Lords has found for a claimant in a social security case.

The ruling announced will have a significant impact on the estimated 500 families with severely disabled children who spend time in hospital undergoing treatment.

The Mathieson's legal challenge has been supported by two charities, Contact a Family and The Children's Trust. In a joint statement Amanda Batten, CEO of Contact a Family and Dalton Leong, CEO of The Children’s Trust, said: “Today’s Supreme Court judgement is in absolutely incredible and a groundbreaking victory for the Mathieson family who have fought tirelessly on behalf of some of the most severely disabled children in the UK who require hospital treatment.

“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has recognised that it is unfair and unlawful to remove the main disability benefit for children – Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - from families of the most sick and disabled children when they need it most. 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 - as a result.

“This is great news for families of disabled children across the UK. The welfare system should be there to protect families when they are at their most vulnerable. We now call on the government to urgently act on today’s judgement and 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.

“We would like to extend our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to the Mathieson family who have fought tirelessly, not for their own benefit, but for the other hundreds of families affected each year.”

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