Monday 02 August, 2021

Bereavement benefits support to be extended to non-married couples with children

Until now, a surviving partner could only claim support if they and their spouse were married or in a civil partnership.

DWP Minister Baroness Stedman-Scott will today (Thursday 15 July 2021) set out plans to extend bereavement support to cohabiting couples with children.

Until now, a surviving parent could only claim financial assistance if they and their spouse were married or in a civil partnership at the time of their spouse’s death or the death of their civil partner.

Welfare Journal Editor Steven Preece wrote to his MP last year after discovering that he would not be eligible for bereavement support following the death of his long-term partner to heart failure and Covid-19.

Mr Preece highlighted an earlier court case where the DWP were ordered to change existing legislation to entend bereavement benefits to cohabiting couples, but had yet to act on this instruction.

However, he was only told that the DWP were looking into how to make these changes and that there was no current time-table.

Widowed Parents Allowance and Bereavement Support Payments will now be made available to surviving cohabiting partners who have children who were living with their spouse at the time of the partner’s death under the proposed changes.

Over the next five years, it is expected that more than 22,000 families will be able to receive this critical assistance, resulting in an additional £320 million in support for bereaved children.

It will only be necessary to have lived with the deceased on the date of death for a surviving partner who has dependent children to qualify under the proposed modifications.

Once approved by Parliament, the amendments will take effect retroactively from August 30, 2018, with any backdated payments being made in lump sums as soon as possible.

Commenting, DWP Minister Baroness Stedman-Scott said: “The death of a loved one is devastating, and can also come with significant financial implications.

“This change will mean more families can access support during the most difficult of times, and I hope to make that possible as swiftly as I can.”

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