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Government publishes bereavement benefit reform proposals - Turn2us

Department for Work and Pensions website (link opens in a new window)Proposals for reforming bereavement benefits were published by the Government on 11 July 2012. This follows a public consultation earlier this year on how bereavement benefit payments should support future working-age widows, widowers and widowed civil partners.

The proposals and the publication of a Command Paper, Bereavement Benefits for the 21st Century: Government Response, addresses concerns that the current system is too complex and 'out of sync' with the needs of bereaved people.

The Government says it remains committed to providing financial support after spousal bereavement, but ministers believe that bereavement benefits should provide immediate support, instead of longer term income replacement, which can discourage rehabilitation into mainstream life, and harm long-term job prospects.

Proposals

Under the current system, some people qualify for a lump sum payout, while others receive regular payments for up to 20 years.

Under the new proposals, the Bereavement Payment is expected to be set at around £9,800 for a bereaved spouse or civil partner with children and £4,300 for those without children and will be paid in a lump sum, followed by instalments over 12 months. The payments will also be disregarded from Universal Credit and the Benefit Cap for a period of 12 months.

This period is not intended to reflect the time required for 'recovery', but instead to provide a buffer for the immediate financial impact of bereavement.

Ongoing financial need will be addressed through contributory Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit, depending on circumstances.

The new rules will come into force for new claimants after the next general election.

Read the Department for Work and Pensions press release (link opens in a new window)

Read Bereavement Benefits for the 21st Century: Government Response (link opens in a new window)

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