Petition Extend Bereavement Support Payments (BSP) for widowed parents
Sadly many people, myself included, find themselves unexpectedly widowed at a young age, often with children. The loss of an income and increased need for childcare lead to huge financial strain. We believe parents of children under school age or in education should receive the BSP for ten years.
The Widowed Parent's Allowance (WPA) provided until April 2017 was £126.35 per week until the claimant was no longer eligible for Child Benefit, or if they reach State Pension age. In contrast the Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) it was replaced with is £3,500 plus £350 per month for 18 months.
This means someone who could have received over £100,000 from the WPA will now receive under £10,000. These households have lost an entire second income forever and support of a spouse/partner with childcare etc, often completely unexpectedly, but after 18 months are cut off.
This response was given on 9 May 2023
Bereavement Support Payment helps with the immediate costs of bereavement. Other parts of the welfare system, such as Universal Credit, can provide longer-term financial assistance for those in need.
Read the response in full
We are sorry to read of your bereavement, so please accept our condolences.
Bereavement Support Payment replaced the previous suite of bereavement benefits, namely Widowed Parent’s Allowance, Bereavement Allowance and the Bereavement Payment, from 6 April 2017. As you say, Widowed Parent’s Allowance supported surviving parents with ongoing living costs following the loss of their spouse, civil or cohabiting partner and it could be paid for as long as there was Child Benefit entitlement.
Bereavement Support Payment is designed for a different purpose; to support individuals through the immediate period following a bereavement. It provides short term financial support towards the additional costs associated with a death, by way of an initial lump sum followed by 18 monthly instalments, with higher amounts paid for those with children. Unlike Widowed Parent’s Allowance, Bereavement Support Payment is paid in addition to other benefits and is not taxed, nor does it count towards the benefit cap; thus helping those on lower incomes the most.
The duration of Bereavement Support Payment may not reflect the period of grief an individual experiences following the death of a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner, and it is not designed to be an ongoing income replacement. For those whose circumstances may not allow them to support themselves through employment, some support is available through working age benefits such as Universal Credit, which have been specifically designed to provide ongoing assistance with living costs. Funeral Expenses Payments are also available for help with the costs of a funeral arranged by someone in receipt of income related benefits. We therefore have no plans to change the current position.
The Department administers a wide range of benefits and allowances for which there are a variety of methods for calculating and awarding entitlement. Further information can be found at: www.gov.uk and by accessing benefit calculators at: www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators.
Citizens Advice can help people to access relevant debt, benefits and housing support. In very complicated cases, it can refer a person to a money advice specialist. Further information on a local Citizens advice can be found by going to: www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
Parents can check their eligibility for childcare support through the childcare choices website. The Childcare Choices website includes a childcare calculator for parents to see what they may be entitled to and to compare all the government’s childcare offers www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.
Department for Work and Pensions
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