I wrote to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions calling on him to rethink plans to cut social security support for bereaved families. Three quarters of bereaved families will lose out under the Tory plans which will see three social security payments reduced to one. The Government plans to cut both the amount that grieving families can claim, and the length of time they can claim for.
According to the Childhood Bereavement Network the reformed payment, known as the Bereavement Support Payment, will see 91% of families supported for a shorter time than under the current system. 75% of families will also be worse off in cash terms.
The most recent statistics show that there are 45,400 families relying on support for bereavement. Under the Tories plans this would mean more than 34,000 families would lose out.
Organisations like the Childhood Bereavement Network have also raised serious concerns about the changes, particularly that instead of parents receiving support until their youngest child leaves school – or for a maximum period of 20 years – they will receive financial help for just 18 months. The CBN has said the average working widowed parent will lose out on over £12,000.
Labour has called on the Government to scrap the reforms, and has promised a review into social security provision for bereaved families. It is impossible to imagine how difficult it must be for a family to lose a parent. Under these circumstances, it is only right that the social security system steps in to help families cope with the loss and get back on their feet.
That’s why Labour absolutely oppose the Government’s plans to slash support for bereaved children. I have urged the Government to scrap these callous reforms, and instead look at how we can improve bereavement support.