Changes to Bereavement Benefits in the UK

Changes to Bereavement Benefits

It has been almost four months since the cuts to bereavement benefits came into effect.

In an attempt to ‘modernise’ the system, the Government replaced the Widowed Parent’s Allowance - the long term financial safety net that widowed parents have received from the Government since 1946 - with the new, short term Bereavement Support Payments. Under this system, 91% of newly widowed parents will receive financial support for a shorter period of time – just 18 months in fact, as opposed to up to 20 years under the previous policy.

In response to these changes, we brought together a task force of experienced individuals and thought leaders from a number of authoritative organisations to help those affected by widowhood and bereavement.

Now, just over a year year since the UK was shocked by the murder of MP Jo Cox, her widow Brendan Cox talks to the task force about his experience of grief:

Who are our task force?

We have always been committed to helping families protect their future and that is why we are supporting a new task force of experienced individuals and thought leaders from a number of authoritive organisations to help those affected by widowhood and bereavement.

In absence of the long terms support from the Government, the task force aims to generate ideas and recommendations that can help change the future of an issue that is suddenly getting worse, not better.

We hope that this task force will help to create a voice of support for the thousands of families who will be affected by the new legislation, and will look to develop a bereavement support strategy that will financially and emotionally support bereaved parents, partners and children of the future.

Meet the team

Ben Brooks-Dutton

Ben Brooks-Dutton is the author of the Sunday Times Bestseller It’s Not Raining, Daddy, It’s Happy - a story that charters the year following the death of Ben’s wife and mother to his son Jackson, who was killed in 2012 by an elderly driver. Ben set up the popular blog, ‘Life as a Widower’, after Desreen’s death to document his experiences as a grieving father and husband. Within two weeks of starting the blog in 2012, he had 55,000 hits from all over the globe.  

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Jeff Brazier

Jeff Brazier is a qualified life coach and ambassador for the children's bereavement charity, Grief Encounter. He is also a popular TV presenter and a regular part of ITV’s This Morning team. Jeff is the father of two sons, 13-year-old Bobby and 11-year-old Freddy, who lost their mother Jade Goody to cervical cancer in 2009. 

Brendan Cox

Brendan Cox is an international campaigner, activist, and the widowed husband of MP Jo Cox, who was killed in June 2016. Since her death, Brendan has worked to honour her memory through the Jo Cox Foundation – an organisation which has been established to support Jo’s friends, family and colleagues in their efforts to continue her work and to highlight the issues she cared deeply about. 

Brendan Cox
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Georgia Elms

Georgia joined WAY Widowed & Young in 2006 after losing her husband, Jon, suddenly at the age of 38. The day after Jon died, Georgia found out that she was pregnant with their second daughter. After initially joining WAY to talk to other bereaved partners, Georgia joined the WAY committee in 2010 and was later elected Chairman in 2011. 

Georgia has been campaigning against proposals to cut support to bereaved families for the past six years, alongside the Childhood Bereavement Network.

Dr Shelley Gilbert MBE

Dr Shelley Gilbert MBE is the founder of Grief Encounter, a charity established to provide information, guidance and support to bereaved children and those who care for them. Now a mother of four, Shelley had first-hand experience of bereavement as a child, losing her mother at the age of four and her father at the age of nine.

Shelley has dedicated much of her adult life to working with troubled children who have suffered the loss of a parent or sibling. Firstly as a counsellor, then a trainer, and now as a Doctor, Shelley has made it her mission to ensure that today’s bereaved child will have somewhere to turn in their moment of need.

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Debbie Kerslake

Debbie Kerslake is the Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Care – a role she has held since 2008, however, her work with the charity has spanned 15 years.

The UK’s leading national charity providing bereavement support services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Cruse offers support, advice and information to children, young people, and adults when someone dies and works to enhance society’s care of bereaved people.

Alison Penny

Alison coordinates the Childhood Bereavement Network CBN. She has consulted with bereaved children and young people and adults on their needs and how these can best be met, and used their views to inform publications, practice guides and campaigning tools. 

Alison has a particular interest in supporting services to demonstrate the effectiveness of their work, and is currently developing a national outcome tool for the child bereavement sector - work she is also taking forward as a PhD. She is an editor of the peer-review journal Bereavement Care.

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Fergus Crow

Fergus joined Winston’s Wish as Chief Executive in October 2015 after nearly a decade at the National Children’s Bureau. His responsibilities there included the Anti-Bullying Alliance, the Childhood Bereavement Network and the Council for Disabled Children. Fergus made key contributions to national policy and practice development in a number of areas, particularly in relation to the emotional and social development and well-being of children and young people in education.