Government extends financial support for bereaved
23 January 2017
Financial support benefits for the bereaved are set to increase after the Minister for Welfare Delivery, Caroline Nokes, announced the introduction of the Bereavement Support Payment last week.
From 6th April 2017, those who have experienced the pain of a family death are eligible to receive an initial lump sum payment of £3,500 for those with children and £2,500 for those without children. The scheme will also provide a further 18 monthly instalment payments to surviving spouses or civil partners of £350 for those with children and £100 for those without children.
The Bereavement Support Payment supercedes the Bereavement Allowance, which was only available to people aged over 45 when their spouse or civil partner died. In addition, the payment is now not subject to tax and provides an additional six months' worth of on-going financial support in comparison to the 12 monthly payments offered by the Bereavement Allowance system. Caroline Nokes said: “Losing a spouse or civil partner can be devastating and we want to provide people with easily accessible support to help them through the difficult period following bereavement.
“The old system could be unfair, complex and also act as a trap preventing people from moving on with their lives. That’s why we are modernising this support into a simple, uniform and easy-to-understand benefit that better reflects society and helps people through what can be a very difficult time.” The original bereavement benefits were introduced as part of the 1925 Widows and Orphans Act, in order to fund early retirement pension for widows who had been dependent on their spouse's income. This was reformed in 2001 to extend the benefit to widowers. This latest reform will significantly increase the amount of people who are eligible to receive this support payment.
The new Bereavement Support Payment restores fairness to the system by being available to all people under state pension age whose spouse or civil partner made sufficient National Insurance contributions.
People will be entitled to receive the full payment as long as their late spouse or civil partner paid National Insurance contributions at 25 times the Lower Earnings Limit for any one tax year prior to their death.
Read more about this on the GOV.UK website.