Recent changes to bereavement payment benefits will see a reduction in financial support for families, widows and widowers who have lost loved ones.
Changes to the Widowed Parent's Allowance, Bereavement Payment and Bereavement Allowance - which will now be collectively known as Bereavement Payment Support - will see the initial lump sum paid upon death increase slightly, while the 20-year cap on financial support has been slashed to 18 months.
Under the new system, families without children will receive a lump sum of £2,500 and a monthly payment of £100. Those with children will receive a larger lump sum of £3,500 and a monthly figure of £350 for a maximum of 18 months. Despite an increase in the initial lump sum payment, the monthly payments are at a reduced rate.
The old rules allowed for bereaved families with children to receive monthly financial support up until the last child left full-time education, with the cap being set at 20 years. The lowest income families who suffer a bereavement are expected to lose out on £31,000 with the changes.
Kate Osamor, MP for Edmonton said:
"I am deeply concerned that these punitive cuts will detrimentally affect bereaved families at an already emotional and difficult time.
"Families will have their financial support ended after only 18 months and it will be difficult for them to return to their normal lives after such a short period of time.
"In my constituency, there have been hundreds of claimants of the benefit since 2010, the majority of whom were widows or widowers with dependent children.
"Bereavement payments account for only 0.32% of the welfare budget and these cuts are only expected to yield savings of £100 million per year. I am calling on the Government in the strongest terms to look again at this policy.”