UK families bereaved in last twelve months likely to lose out on collective total of £42 million

  • Changes to bereavement benefits already having a huge impact on families bereaved in last year alone
  • Life Matters task force calls on Government to open new consultation in how bereaved families can best be protected

6th April 2018: One year on from the changes to the bereavement benefit system, Life Matters - the task force for bereaved families - is calling on the Government to open a new consultation into how bereaved families can best be protected.

The task force is making this call after an FOI request to the Department of Work and Pensions reveals that 3,500 widowed parents have qualified for the Bereavement Support Payment in the last year alone.

Collectively, these bereaved families are set to lose out on a total of £42,000,000 as a result of the cuts – following initial estimates that the changes would leave each bereaved family worse off by £12,000 on average.

Ben Brooks-Dutton

Ben Brooks-Dutton


Life Matters task force

“One year on from the Bereavement Support Payment coming into effect, it is important that we understand its impact on bereaved families. Whilst they won’t feel the full effects of the cuts under the new benefits system until eighteen months on from the first payment, it is vital that we consider now, how bereaved families can be better supported going forward.

“As a task force, we urge the UK Government to open a new consultation into the matter. We hope to work together to find solutions that mix the best of the old and the new financial support systems – that support those with children for longer and that are fair to children whose parents weren’t married.

“The absence of any real data on the number of bereaved families in the UK means that it is impossible to know how many families have been affected, and to know how many families are in need of support. That is why the Life Matters task force is also calling on the Government to ensure that all dependent children should be included on information given when registering a death, to plan for service development and to make more sense of research on the impact of bereavement on children’s lives.”

This information has been released by the Life Matters task force, which was brought together by in April 2017 in response to the significant changes to bereavement benefits. The changes will leave 75% of UK families affected by bereavement worse off financially than they would have been under the old system, with the average working widowed parent losing out on over £12,000. 

In November 2017, the task force introduced its six recommendations for policymakers on how best to support those affected by bereavement – both emotionally and financially.

The recommendations include:

  • Adapting the information registered at death to include any details on dependent children of both married and unmarried couples;
  • Training all teachers and carers of children on how to manage and support bereaved children;
  • A call for the government to confirm that Personal, Social, Health & Economic Education (PHSE) will become statutory, so that all children can learn about bereavement and grief within a safe, supported and age-appropriate curriculum  
    • Introducing a cross-government bereavement strategy, and identifying a government lead for this
    • A call for every organisation to have a bereavement policy
    • A call for the government to open a new consultation into how it can better support bereaved families

To review a summary of the recommendations from the Life Matters task force, visit: