Benefits for bereaved children not mentioned in Chancellor’s uprating measures

Bereavement Support Payment to help children bereaved of a parent was not mentioned in today’s uprating decision, and has lost 18% in value in recent years. New estimates published by the Childhood Bereavement Network suggest that each day across the UK, around 127 children and young people are bereaved of their mum or dad. Charities are calling on the government to uprate all bereavement benefits in line with inflation, and to compensate families who have missed out on these payments.

Bereavement Support Payment, the 18-month benefit available to families where one parent has died, was not mentioned among the benefits which will be uprated in line with inflation in Jeremy Hunt’s Budget. It hasn’t risen in value at all since it was introduced in April 2017, meaning that families have seen an 18% fall in the payments.

Figures released today by the Childhood Bereavement Network estimate that almost 27,000 parents die each year in the UK, with 127 children a day facing the death of their mum or dad. Many others are bereaved of a brother, sister, grandparent or someone close.

Released to mark the start of Children’s Grief Awareness Week, which runs 17-23 November and focuses on ‘What Helps’, the figures make sobering reading.

Bereaved children, young people and parents who shared their stories with the recent independent UK Commission on Bereavement were clear that along with practical and emotional support from family, friends, schools and services, financial support is hugely important. Without it, the struggle of bereavement is made even worse, particularly as the cost-of-living crisis bites.  Bereaved children are all too aware of these pressures:

“Seeing my mum struggling with all the money problems.” Evidence to the UK Commission on Bereavement from a 12-year-old boy

Bereaved families commonly experience financial difficulties due to reduced household income, including loss of wages or benefits. Navigating the insurance and benefits systems to access entitlements is complex and difficult to manage at an already stressful time. The current amount and duration of financial support following bereavement is inadequate for many families, especially those with children.

Alison Penny, Director of the Childhood Bereavement Network said:

“We welcome today’s announcement that working-age benefits will be uprated in April in line with inflation. But where was the mention of Bereavement Support Payment among the documents that accompanied the Autumn Statement? It’s appalling that a benefit we know is a lifeline to grieving families in crisis has fallen in value by 18% in recent years. It’s worth almost a fifth less now than when MPs voted for it in 2017. How are families expected to manage on this dwindling benefit as prices rise? It’s critical that Bereavement Support Payment is included among the benefits that will be uprated next April.”

This Children’s Grief Awareness Week, childhood bereavement charities including Child Bereavement UK, Cruse, Grief Encounter, Quaker Social Action, WAY Widowed and Young and Winston’s Wish, together with the Childhood Bereavement Network, are calling on the Government to uprate Bereavement Support Payment in line with inflation and other benefits. They are also asking the Government to make payments to those families who have missed out on these benefits because they were living together but not married. Supporters are being asked to write to their MP to explain how these simple, low-cost changes could make a huge difference to grieving children and their families.

“No bereavement support allowance as not married even though two children one with learning disabilities.” Evidence to the UK Commission on Bereavement from a man in his 30s

“We have seen people use their rent payments to pay towards funeral costs. You know, a client of ours who had (…) children under eighteen, used her rent and food money to pay the thousand-pound deposit for the funeral director. And when we started working with her several months after the funeral, she was being evicted.” Oral evidence to the UK Commission on Bereavement from a bereavement support organisation

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