November 2, 2022 6.00 am This story is over 12 months old

Lincolnshire’s disabled suffer benefits cuts after long hospital stays

Nearly 1,000 were affected in the first half of 2022

Nearly 1,000 people in Greater Lincolnshire suffered benefit cuts in the last quarter of the financial year to April 2022 after hospital stays of a month or more.

Under government rules, a person’s entitlement to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is suspended if they received care in a hospital or similar facility for more than 28 days.

Information from the BBC Shared Data Unit asked for the total number of people whose PIP payments were suspended due to spending 28 days or more in a hospital or similar institution for each local authority for the quarter from February 1 to April 30 for each of the past three years – 2020, 2021 and 2022

It showed that compared to 2020, the number of PIP suspensions under the hospital rule in Greater Lincolnshire authorities to 2022 increased by an average of 45.31% during those months.

Families and charities argue that the payments help cover extra expenses incurred while disabled relatives are in hospital.

However, the government said the rule avoids taxpayers paying twice, and the number of suspensions is “very small” compared to the overall number of claimants.

Nationally, suspensions during that time period increased from 30,860 in 2020, to 45,850 in 2022.

In the most recent financial quarter’s data, 930 of the 54,888 people claiming PIP across Greater Lincolnshire were subject to the suspension. In 2020 the figure was 640.

The highest number was in the North and North East Lincolnshire Councils with 140 each.

Meanwhile the highest district affected was East Lindsey with 130 suspensions, followed by West Lindsey with 120 and North Kesteven with 110. NKDC and the City of Lincoln saw the highest percentage changes in the past three years with a 57.1% rise each.

At the other end of the scale, Boston Borough Council had 50 suspensions, but still saw a rise of 25%.

The most common disabilities affected were those with learning disabilities or autism along with stroke sufferers.

Charities said the rule had particular impact on those detained under the Mental Health Act.

Learning disability charity Mencap’s head of policy, Dan Scorer, said: “This group of people are more likely to need lengthy hospital admissions due to their often-complex health needs.

“Due to the complexity of the barriers they face in communicating their needs, they rely heavily on family members and carers, who know them well, to advocate for them and support them in the hospital environment and to tolerate medical interventions.

“The loss of financial support can have a detrimental impact on the ability of family members and carers to support the person at a key time, throughout a lengthy hospital admission.”

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that disabled people get all the support to which they are entitled.

“It is a long-standing rule that payment of extra costs benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment, is suspended after the first 28 days in a hospital or similar institution, to avoid double provision from public funds.

“While the number of hospitalisation suspensions has gone up so has the number of PIP awards, suspensions still form a very small proportion of the overall PIP caseload.”

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