Peers push to reverse bereavement benefit changes : THE GUARDIAN

Ministers must accept they have made a mistake in cutting benefits received by parents, says cross-party group in Lords.

A cross-party collection of peers has called on the government to rethink a cut to bereaved parents’ benefits, which comes into force on Thursday, saying ministers must accept they have made a mistake.

Ros Altmann, a Conservative peer, asked a question on the issue in the Lords, and is among a group who have signed a letter to the pensions secretary, Damian Green, asking that he reconsider the changes. The letter was also signed by the bishop of Peterborough, Donald Allister.

Theresa May has defended the cuts, under which parents with school-age children who lose a spouse will be given payments for just 18 months as against the previous system, where the payments continued until the youngest child left full-time education.

The changes will result in an increase to a lump sum payment received after the death, from £2,000 to £3,500, and ministers argue this is the time when extra money is most needed.

However, while previously the bereaved parent would get a taxable benefit of about £112 a week while they had children in education, for those who die after midnight on Wednesday, the payments will be cut to £350 a month, with a limit of 18 months.

A 51-year-old man with terminal cancer has described to the Guardian how the changes could potentially lead to his family losing more than £50,000 in benefits, given that his children are 10 and 14.

Speaking in the Lords, Lady Altmann said the old system needed modernising and its replacement had some advantages.

READ MORE : THE GUARDIAN

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