Shadow Pensions Minister, Alex Cunningham MP, today called for reversal of government changes to bereavement payments which have been described by campaigners as “callous and brutal”.
Alex appeared on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme this morning to discuss and add to criticisms of the government’s changes to the bereavement pay which will see the most vulnerable in society lose out. Under a Labour government these cuts will be reversed to ensure that those who have lost loved ones will receive the support that they deserve.
Changes to bereavement pay will see payments limited to just £9,800 over 18 months. Alex described this change as part of the government’s austerity program looking to save the government £100 million per year, with some bereaved families standing to lose tens of thousands of pounds under the new system. Under a Labour government this would be reversed protecting ordinary people through the most vulnerable period of their lives.
Alex appeared on Victoria Derbyshire alongside Katy Moore, a widow with two children, who described the payments she received under the old system as a lifeline. The new system has been described by campaigners as an easy cut to make as very few who have not experienced bereavement pay would be willing to fight against these cuts.
Whilst recognising that the government has a mandate to cut the welfare bill, Alex argued that a Labour government would look to find money from other areas. Through highlighting the tax cuts the government has given to millionaires, Alex argued that the £100 million could be found in the budget calling this an unnecessary cut to vulnerable bereaving families.
When asked by Victoria Derbyshire about the government’s justifications for the cuts, Alex said:
“Let’s be very clear about this – the tax free payment every month is probably equivalent to the £112 per week which is taxable, which bereaving families receive at the moment.
“But that’s only for 18 months and if it hadn’t been for a select committee of MPs in the House of Commons, the government would have cut that after just 12 months. So clearly their focus is on saving money and not the people that actually need the support.”
Prime Minister, Theresa May responded to criticisms of the cuts by arguing that the new system is fair to both those requiring bereavement payments and tax payers.
For more information please contact Alex Cunningham on 020 7219 7157