I am pleased to announce that today I intend to lay regulations to provide some of the detail of the new Bereavement Support Payment. These are affirmative regulations which will be debated in Parliament shortly. It is intended that the changes detailed in these regulations will come into force on 6 April this year.
Bereavement Support Payment is a new benefit which replaces the current suite of bereavement benefits (Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance) for those whose spouse or civil partner dies on or after 6 April this year. These changes will not affect those already in receipt of bereavement benefits. These people will continue to receive their current benefit for the natural lifetime of the award.
The design of Bereavement Support Payment reaffirms the Government’s commitment to provide financial support to people whose spouse or civil partner has died. The new benefit modernises and simplifies the current complex system of bereavement benefits.
It shifts the focus of bereavement benefits from replacing the deceased spouse or civil partner’s earnings to helping with the additional and more immediate costs of bereavement.
Bereavement Support Payment will not be taxable, will not be included in the assessment of benefit income which will be subject to the household benefit cap, and will also be subject to a disregard in the calculation of income-based benefits. Additionally, Bereavement Support Payment will not affect the bereaved person’s concurrent entitlement to contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or contributory Employment and Support Allowance, where appropriate. Also, unlike the current bereavement benefits, a bereaved person who remarries or re-partners will be able to keep their Bereavement Support Payment.
To allow people to better understand their entitlements and plan accordingly, the new benefit is simpler, introducing a uniform payment structure with a single National Insurance contribution condition. There is a higher rate of payment for pregnant women and people with dependent children in recognition of the greater costs borne by these families.
Having considered representations from the Social Security Advisory Committee, the Work and Pensions Select Committee and groups supporting bereaved people, we have decided to extend the duration of the benefit from 12 months to 18 months.
Recipients with children can receive an initial larger payment of £3,500 and up to 18 subsequent monthly payments of £350, and those without children can receive an initial payment of £2,500 and up to 18 monthly instalments of £100.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords