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Fairer Welfare benefits

We are campaigning actively to improve provision for bereaved families.

Changes to bereavement benefits from April 2017

We are concerned about the impact of the government's replacement of Bereavement Payment and Widowed Parents' Allowance with the new Bereavement Support Payment from 6 April 2017.

We estimate these changes will mean that 91% of newly widowed parents are supported for a shorter time, and 75% are worse off than they would have been under the old scheme. A minority of widowed parents will be better off than under the old scheme, as BSP won't be taken into account for calculating entitlement to means-tested benefits.

If you want to take action about these changes, read our handy guide to meeting your MP.

We've been leading a coalition of organisations concerned about these changes. Read our latest briefing here.

We've joined a new taskforce to think about solutions and recommendations on how the nation could better support bereaved parents, partners, and children both financially and emotionally. Read our news release or watch our film. 

What about families who are worried about the impact?

Although we can make clear statements about how the changes will affect groups of widowed parents, it is almost impossible to predict the impact on a specific individual family, and to work out whether they would be worse off under the old or new scheme of bereavement benefits.

For parents who are terminally ill and worried about the future of their family, it is important to make sure they are claiming all the benefits they are currently entitled to. There is a good guide here, with specific information for people whose death ‘can reasonably be expected’ in the next six months.   

People can’t currently claim bereavement benefits if they weren’t married to their partner, so it makes sense for unmarried couples to seek advice about how they can make sure their family is supported post-bereavement. You can find an adviser here

The Plan If website has more suggestions for parents of things they might want to put in place in case they die before their children grow up.

Unmarried cohabiting partners and bereavement benefits

We estimate that one in five parents raising children can't claim bereavement benefits if their long-term partner dies, because they weren't married or in a civil partnership before the death. Read why we don't think this is fair.

We've intervened in a Supreme Court case where mother-of-four Siobhan McLaughlin has appealed her ineligibility to Widowed Parents's Allowance. She was with her partner for 23 years before he died. The was heard on 30 April 2018 and the judgement is awaited.

You can read our submissions here. We were able to intervene after receiving pro bono support from specialist public lawyers at national law firm Irwin Mitchell and human rights barrister Stephen Broach from Monckton Chambers.

Funeral poverty

Funeral costs are rising faster than inflation, but the 'other expenses' part of the Social Fund Funeral Payment for those on a low income hasn't been increased since 2003. Concerned about the impact on children in families forced into poverty through funeral expenses, we have joined the Funeral Poverty Alliance. Read more here.