Widowed parents left struggling financially face further hardship under Government plans to slash the Widowed Parents Allowance, when it is replaced by the Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) in April.
The Daily Mirror is the latest newspaper to express concern over the plans, which will be scrutinised by a Parliamentary committee on Monday 27th February, before they are finally introduced in April.
Other coverage of the issue includes: BBC1 Victoria Derbyshire Show, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4’s Money Box, The Times and Sunday Times, Observer, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Mirror, Financial Times, Express, and Independent. As well as important websites like Money Saving Expert.
The outrage in the media has added extra impetus to a campaign led by the Childhood Bereavement Network which includes an ‘Email your MP’ campaign which has prompted over two thousand families, most of whom have lived through bereavement, to write to their MP calling for a rethink.
The Childhood Bereavement Network, based at the National Children’s Bureau, is concerned about the impact of the cuts on grieving children and young people and the widowed parents caring for them.
Alison Penny, Coordinator of the Childhood Bereavement Network, said:
‘These changes are going through very much under the radar. That’s particularly unfair as the current allowance is paid for out of the National Insurance contributions of the parent who died. Those parents paid in in good faith, but in 75% of cases, the children and widows/widowers they leave behind will get less support than under the current scheme.'
Widowed parents who get the current Widowed Parent’s Allowance describe it as a ‘lifeline’ which gives them the flexibility they need to work around their grieving children’s needs. At the moment, that support can be there for up to 20 years, but the new scheme will cut this drastically to just 1 ½ years. 91% families will be supported for a shorter time.
Despite the government claiming this is not a cost-saving measure, the Daily Mail revealed last week that the government has already saved £5.2bn on bereavement benefits since 2003, and the DWP itself is now forecasting additional savings of £100m a year once the new scheme is up and running.
In light of this new evidence, we want the Government to pause the introduction of BSP. We want it to bring forward the review to which it has committed, and work across parties to build on the Work and Pensions Select Committee's recommendations. We want to work with it to come up with a solution that mixes the best of the old and the new system, supports those with children for longer, and is fair to those children whose parents weren't married.