COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Government gives way over hospital stay pensions rule

Age Concern has claimed a campaign victory over pension rights for elderly hospital patients.

The charity has been lobbying the Government over a benefits ruling dating back to 1945, which stated that pensioners staying in hospitals for over six weeks forfeit more than a third of their pension.

Age Concern argued the ruling contradicted the Government's objective of enabling elderly people to live independently for as long as possible.

Work and pensions secretary Alistair Darling announced in the Commons last month that the safe period would be extended from six to 13 weeks.

His speech followed an Age Concern-inspired early day motion in Parliament.

Neil Churchill, Age Concern's communications director, told Third Sector: "We collected 200 signatures from both sides of the House, making it one of the best- supported early day motions this parliament.

"We would like to get rid of the ruling altogether, but this means that the majority of older people will not have the stress of clawing back their pension when they can least afford to do so."

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