A furious charity has said ‘there is nothing fair about taking money away from bereaved families who are already suffering’.
Theresa May has defended harsh Tory cuts to bereavement benefits, expected to affect thousands of grieving families over the next year, cruelly claiming the new system will be “fair to people who require that help and support”.
Under the current system, parents can continue to receive bereavement benefits until their youngest child reaches 16-years-of-age – the new system will be far less generous.
A government shake-up will see bereavement benefits for newly widowed parents replaced with a larger lump sum payment of £3,500, compared with £2,000 under the current system, followed by 18 smaller monthly payments of £350 – an £80 a week cut. As stated above, grieving parents will receive the new monthly payment for a much shorter time, when compared to the current system.
Research by the Childhood Bereavement Network found the government will save around £100 million a year from the changes, but analysis also found that families could find themselves up to £12,000 a year worse off, compared to current claimants.
Around 8,500 families and individuals are expected to make a claim next year, with around 6,000 of these predicted to see a loss in income. The changes come into force later this week (7 April).
Parents left to care for children following the death of their spouse are set to miss out on anything between £6,000 and £12,000 a year. And if couples are not married they’ll lose out entirely.
Theresa May has defended the changes, saying: “The aim is that it will be a different sort of payment to the ones that have been there in the past.
“We have to ensure we have a system that is fair to people who require that help and support, but also that is generally fair to taxpayers.”
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Debbie Abrahams, urged the PM to “scrap these callous reforms”.
While Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said that April will be the “cruellest month for some of the poorest in our society”.