Bereaved children losing out because their parents aren’t married

Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham is calling for the Government to better support bereaved children who lose out if their parents aren’t married – by introducing a lone parent support payment.

Under current legislation, Bereavement Support Payments are only made if the couple was married, with payments increasing when that couple have children. If a couple are separated or unmarried, there is currently no support for those children. Other countries, such as Ireland, offer a “one parent family” support payment.

Alex raised the matter with the Government after hearing of a case where a father, separated from his family but paying regular maintenance for is child died.  Those payments were lost immediately  and the mother told their child didn’t qualify for support. 

The Government say that the tax and benefit systems only recognise inheritance rights within marriage or civil partnership. Modern families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This means that not only does a child lose a parent, but their household ends up worse off financially. While the Government recommends alternatives, they should understand that not everyone in this country has the funds available to take out private finance options such as life insurance. As a result, it is the children who miss out.

Alex said:

“It’s disappointing to see that the Government holds such archaic view of modern relationships. There are many reasons couples chose not to marry and it is entirely wrong for the children of such relationships to face repercussions for that.”

“Previous benefits were replaced in April 2017 with Bereavement Support Payment. The Government state this was to ‘simplify a complex administrative process’. It is completely deplorable that children are missing out on financial support because the Government say it is too complex to deal with. The lives of children, already tasked with coping with a bereavement, should not be reduced to nothing more than an administrative process. It is unacceptable.”

“It is 2020. Relationships can take many valid structures. It is time the Government change to keep up with modern times. We must do more to support those children who have lost a parent through no fault of their own.”