18 months after Siobhan McLaughlin won her case for Widowed Parent’s Allowance in the Supreme Court, and the day after the Government was refused permission to appeal a similar case on Bereavement Support Payment, 18 organisations, including the Childhood Bereavement Network, have come together to write an open letter to the Prime Minister urging change to the rules that deny bereavement benefits to unmarried, cohabiting parents.
The letter reads:
We were pleased to hear your comments at Prime Minister’s Questions on 12 February 2020 about the ineligibility of bereaved parents who were cohabiting and their grieving children to bereavement benefits.
It meant a great deal to us – and to parents and children in this situation who are grieving the loss of their mother or father – to hear you describe it as an ‘injustice’. We are very encouraged by your undertaking to do what you can ‘to remedy this’.
We would therefore be grateful if you would work with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to bring forward legislation to extend eligibility to the new Bereavement Support Payment and the old Widowed Parent’s Allowance to cohabiting, unmarried parents, and to clarify the position for those previously deemed ineligible. As you know, the requirements for parents to have been married or in a civil partnership with their partner who died have been declared incompatible with human rights legislation, by the High Court and the Supreme Court, respectively. We respectfully ask that this be done quickly, as another five families with children fall foul of the current criteria each day.
We would be very pleased to support officials in working through the practical implications of these changes.
We look forward to supporting you and colleagues in levelling up for this group of vulnerable bereaved children and their surviving parents.
Chair, Association of Bereavement Service Coordinators
Philippa Graham and Wendy Ashton
Co-chairs, Association of Palliative Care Social Workers
Director, Childhood Bereavement Network
Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, Children in Scotland
CEO, Cruse Bereavement Care
CEO, Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland
Founder, Life Patron and Trustee, Grief Encounter
CEO, Hospice UK
Founder Chair, Scottish Working Group on Funeral Poverty
Vice Chair, Life Matters the taskforce for bereaved families
Director of External Affairs, MND Association
CEO, National Children’s Bureau
Director, One Parent Families Scotland
Down to Earth Acting Manager, Quaker Social Action
Chair, Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care
Director of Nursing, Interim Director of Hospices, Sue Ryder
CEO, WAY Widowed and Young
CEO, Winston’s Wish
For more details on the campaign for bereavement benefits for cohabiting parents and their children, visit http://www.childhoodbereavementnetwork.org.uk/campaigns/fairer-welfare-benefits.aspx