Pressure group nails benefits staff gaffe

    The Department for Work and Pensions has agreed to remind
    benefits managers of the rules governing attendance allowance.

    The move came after care home pressure group NHFA claimed that
    hundreds of older nursing home residents were being wrongly denied
    almost £60 a week.

    NHFA said it had received several calls from relatives of care
    home residents who were being refused attendance allowance by
    benefits staff despite being eligible.

    Any pensioner whose care is neither part-funded by councils nor
    fully paid for by the NHS under the continuing care system is
    eligible for the allowance. The registered nursing care
    contribution, which was introduced under the Health and Social Care
    Act 2001 and covers the nursing care element of a place only, has
    no impact on attendance allowance eligibility.

    However, according to NHFA, people in receipt of the registered
    nursing care contribution are being wrongly denied the benefit.

    Director Philip Spiers said: “It’s [down to] a lack of training
    of benefits staff. There must be hundreds of people who are having
    their attendance allowance withdrawn.”

    Attendance allowance is worth £58.80 a week to older people
    needing day and night care, and £39.95 to those requiring
    either one or the other.

    Age Concern care policy officer Pauline Thompson said NHFA’s
    findings were “seriously worrying”.
    She added: “When the nursing payments came in, the law was changed
    and made quite clear. And the guidance, which benefit staff should
    be using, makes it quite clear that you can get attendance
    allowance if  you’re receiving the nursing payments.”


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