Bereavement benefit must change to better support those left behind

Sue Ryder is calling on the Government to better support those who have been bereaved as many are missing out on vital benefits and face falling into debt to pay for basic funeral packages.

We are calling on the Government to extend the time bereaved people have to apply for benefits and widen eligibility criteria to include unmarried couples.

To mark the end of Dying Matters Awareness Week, we have made a submission to the Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry[1] looking into Bereavement Support Payment.

Our recommendations

After consulting with our online bereavement community and family support service, Sue Ryder is urging the Committee to:

  • Extend the eligibility for Bereavement Support Payment to include unmarried couples, in addition to married or civil partners.
  • Extend the deadline within which people must apply for the benefit from three months to two years, or find a way to ensure it is paid automatically without having to apply. A bereaved person is likely to still be coming to terms with their loss in the first three months and applying for benefits during that period can often feel like a task too high.
  • The 18-month period for payments should be extended or be made more flexible to allow for individual circumstances. This could be particularly supportive for those with dependent children or older adults.
  • Create a simple, easy to navigate hub offering advice on all of the practical aspects of handling a death, including benefits and financial assistance.

Why is this so important?

“We can and must do better at supporting those coping with bereavement," says Sue Ryder CEO Heidi Travis. "The inflexibility of access, eligibility and duration of financial assistance from the Bereavement Support Payment is acting as a barrier to receiving support at what can, for many, be the most difficult time of their lives.

“Bereavement can affect people in many different ways; feelings of shock, overwhelming sadness, guilt or anger are completely normal. When grieving, worrying about financial matters can be unbearable, so we must do all that we can to support people.”

For more information

[1] Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry on Bereavement Support Payment

Read our full submission to the inquiry