FOI request reveals that bereaved children are effectively invisible to the Government

Life Matters task force introduces a series of recommendations to support those affected by bereavement

17 November 2017:  Just seven months after the government cut the benefits available to bereaved UK families, the Life Matters task force reveals that there is no central record of the number of children affected by the bereavement of a parent.

The alarming revelation comes as a result of an FOI request asking for the number of children bereaved of a parent in the UK, to which both the General Register Office and the Department of Work and Pensions stated: “The information is not held by the department.”

This information has been released by the Life Matters task force, which was brought together by comparethemarket.com 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.

Today, in response to this new information, the task force is introducing 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

Member of the Life Matters task force and author of The Grief Survival Guide, Jeff Brazier, says:

“When the Life Matters task force came together earlier this year, it was because we knew that more needed to be done to support families across the UK who have suffered the bereavement of a parent or loved one.

“These recommendations provide a realistic plan of action through which policymakers can address the issues faced by bereaved families and pave the way for a better future for the next generation affected by the loss of a parent.” 

Also released by the Life Matters task force today, is a video featuring a number of children affected by bereavement appealing to their local MP on what more should to be done to help others in their situation.

To view a copy of the video, or review a summary of the recommendations from the Life Matters task force, visit comparethemarket.com/

 

ENDS


Notes to Editors 

For further information, please contact the Life Matters task force press office on:

The above information was sourced from a Freedom of Information request issued to Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) on 7 June 2017. When asked for the number of children under the age of 18 bereaved of a parent in the UK, the DWP responded: “The information is not held by the department.”

The second FOI request was issued to the General Register Office on the 24th July. When asked for the number of children under the age of 18 bereaved of a parent in the UK, the General Register Office responded: “The General Register Office, which is part of Her Majesty’s Passport Office, does not hold the information you requested.”

Life Matters – the task force for bereaved families

Life Matters, the task force for bereaved families, came together in April 2017 in response to the changes to bereavement benefits.

Supported by comparethemarket.com, Life Matters has come together to improve the support available to bereaved families in the UK and to give a voice to the thousands of bereaved families across the UK.

Members of the Life Matters task force include:

  • Georgia Elms, Chairman WAY Widowed & Young
  • Alison Penny, Coordinator, Childhood Bereavement Network
  • Jeff Brazier, author of The Grief Survival Guide 
  • Ben Brooks-Dutton, author of It’s Not Raining, Daddy, It’s Happy andLife as a Widower blogger
  • Debbie Kerslake, Chief Executive, Cruse Bereavement Care
  • Dr Shelley Gilbert MBE, Founder, Grief Encounter
  • Fergus Crow, Chief Executive, Winston’s Wish
  • Dr Katie Koehler, Child Bereavement UK
  • Brendan Cox, Campaigner and widower of Jo Cox

Key facts about Government changes to bereavement benefits 

  • In March, the House of Commons approved the Bereavement Support Payment Regulations 2017 by 292 votes to 236
  • The Widowed Parent’s Allowance – the safety net that parents get thanks to the National Insurance contributions their husband or wife made before they died – was abolished
  • This has been replaced by a new Bereavement Support Payment, effective from 6 April 2017:
  • For those with children, the Bereavement Support Payment is a tax-free lump sum of £3,500, followed by a monthly tax-free payment of £350 for 18 months
  • For those without children, the Bereavement Support Payment is a tax-free lump sum of £2,500 and then a monthly tax-free payment of £100 for 18 month