Changes to bereavement benefits by the Department of Work and Pensions will be introduced by 6th April 2017, these changes will help financially support a spouse or civil partner of the deceased, up to £9,800.00 over an 18-month period.
The old bereavement payment system, which seemed complex and unfair, has been scraped and this new system has replaced it, although still dependent on circumstances, it can be a one-off tax-free lump sum or a weekly payment continuing weekly for 52 weeks.
It consists of the following after the death of a spouse or civil partner:
For those with children, an initial lump sum of £3,500, plus a monthly instalment of £350 for 18 months
For those without children, an initial lump sum of £2,500, plus a monthly instalment of £100 for 18 months
Currently, recipients of bereavement benefits are only given support for 12 months and the lump sum bereavement payment is only £2,000. The new system could give grieving families significantly more financial support in the wake of tragedy.
The new bereavement support payment is available to anyone up to state pension age who has lost a spouse or civil partner. At present, it is only available to those over 45. In addition, the payment will not be taxed and will be disregarded in the calculation of other means-tested benefits. This means that low-income families and individuals could have better financial support overall after a bereavement.
Although the Government is still not recognising cohabiting couples with or without children and they will continue to not receive any benefits in the case of a bereavement. Despite repeated calls for unmarried partners to be treated equally, the Government made no such provisions in the new bereavement support payment scheme.