Ending Widowed Parents Allowance after a year

(40 Posts)
myfriendflicka Sat 18-Aug-12 07:11:31

The Government is proposing to stop Widowed Parents Allowance after a year. Those who receive it now will not be affected, but people whose partners or spouses die in the future will be.
At the moment it is paid monthly, and is a lifeline for bereaved families. It is based on the partner who died's national insurance contributions, and it is also taxed. It is certainly not enough to live on on its own, and most people who receive it work too.
It helps to pay bills, including childcare for a working parent who has lost their partner and their income. Partners will have paid many years contributions towards their state pension which they will never collect, so the least that should be done is that their partners and children get help at a terrible time.

Anyone who thinks that you are over a bereavement after a year is deluding themselves. Please write to your MPs about this. I have written to Lord Freud, the architect of these changes, as well as my MP.

Please see link below to Telegraph article. The debate contains very offensive language about saving bereaved parents from dependency and how receiving this benefit will discourage people from remarrying. Words fail me.

www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/rowena-mason/9392768/Widowed-parents-to-lose-up-to-80000-in-benefits.html

exoticfruits Sat 18-Aug-12 07:22:42

I am very shocked and think it offensive that it is thought to start widows on a lifetime of dependency. I will write.

IcanandIwill Sat 18-Aug-12 07:29:11

Being very very recently widowed with a newborn and two other small DC, I do not think the people behind this have any concept of what we are going through. Twelve months is no time at all. My children (and I) will grieve at different times and in different ways throughout their lives. To say that we should be moving on in 12 months is an insult. sad

RottenRow Sat 18-Aug-12 07:39:47

I feel very strongly about this. It wasn't given to widowers when I was a child and my mum had died. Yes we managed without it but my god it was a struggle. For a few years my dad did not work with 4 small children and there was no breathing space at all, every penny was accounted for, every bill dreaded. Even something as simple as cooking at school was a source of tension. This benefit would have made such a massive difference to us. Will be writing to MP thank you to myfriendflicka for highlighting this.

exoticfruits Sat 18-Aug-12 07:44:00

My DS was a baby when I was widowed. I don't think that Lord Freud has any concept of what it was like.

EdithWeston Sat 18-Aug-12 08:07:58

"the system does not create enough incentives for widows to marry again"

WTF? I wonder if that was actually said by a minister or in an official paper (it might just be the journos angle).

exoticfruits Sat 18-Aug-12 08:34:49

Surely a government minister can't be saying 'marry them off and save the taxpayer money'!! It also sounds like something from 1950's-perhaps the widow was the main breadwinner in the first place.

EdithWeston Sat 18-Aug-12 08:39:41

If all components of this are contributions based, then this also represents a further weakening of the whole concept of a National Insurance system.

That would be bad, not because NI represents what it used to, but because removing it would mean a huge tax hike on pensioners (which would include bereaved families in receipt of occupational pensions already far lower than they might otherwise expect).

myfriendflicka Sat 18-Aug-12 18:48:51

Thank you for posting about this.

The whole debate (from the article) is so utterly offensive. It won't have been the journalists's angle, she is reporting what Freud was saying.

WPA has been a lifeline for me and my children since my husband died four and a half years ago.

I do work, but do the Government realize how hard it is to be the sole breadwinner, sole support of your children, sole everything? It is really hard to be working and paying for child care out of one salary, and some of you here are talking about being bereaed with very young DC and my heart goes out to you.

I thought the way they were talking about widows/widowers and people who have lost their partners was so insulting, I am absolutely fuming.

They were also very careful to downplay the fact it is based on partners NI contributions. As you say Edith Weston, it represents a further weakening of the NI system.

Words fail me - it's disgraceful.

IcanandIwill Sat 18-Aug-12 18:59:31

To add to what I wrote earlier I will be writing to my MP.

expatinscotland Sat 18-Aug-12 19:05:46

How disgusting!

mercibucket Sat 18-Aug-12 19:08:39

That is disgusting! How low can this govt go! I will write to my MP for sure. It is also imo sad that it is taxed and that it is only for married couples. That comment about a disincentive to remarry is quite horrible sad

mercibucket Sat 18-Aug-12 19:08:40

That is disgusting! How low can this govt go! I will write to my MP for sure. It is also imo sad that it is taxed and that it is only for married couples. That comment about a disincentive to remarry is quite horrible sad

Molehillmountain Sat 18-Aug-12 20:30:42

This is so, so wrong. My father became a widower when my sister was a baby and in those days there was no financial support for widowers at all, only widows. It was so difficult and he still remembers it.

NatashaBee Sat 18-Aug-12 20:51:02

That is shocking. The husband or wife who died wont be claiming a pension, so their widow should get the benefit of their NI contributions.

expatinscotland Sat 18-Aug-12 21:03:06

Exactly, Natasha! 'Back into the mainstream world.' And the twaddle about going back to work and remarrying! First of all, many of those who receive this benefit ARE in work! This assumes they are not. And that rot about remarrying just beggars belief, as if a person can just be replaced. Sick, twisted crap. Pensioners exempt, of course. Can't piss them off.

expatinscotland Sat 18-Aug-12 21:08:15

So the 'welfare reform minister' with the title 'Lord', wants to cut an NI-contribution-based benefit for a person who will never draw a state pension because they died before reaching pension age.

What a pathetic excuse for a human being!

TheCrackFox Sat 18-Aug-12 21:18:43

Wow, I didnt think the Tories could sink any lower, turns out I was wrong.

expatinscotland Sat 18-Aug-12 21:37:32

I don't see anything, either, to exempt the widows and widowers of those who died in service to their country.

It's an NI-based payment for those who did not live to pensionable age. To help with the cost of the loss of that person's income to their widow or widower.

But hey, to the wall with them! Lazy scroungers just need to get back to work, ignoring the fact that it's not based on the work of the widow or widower. Just assuming they're all feckless lowlives.

myfriendflicka Sun 19-Aug-12 07:15:56

Expat in Scotland, the widowers/widows of those who died in service to their country are exempt.

However, it is still going to cause suffering to a lot of other people who lose their partners, and all the rest of what you say is true. It is disgraceful, and there is an important principal at stake - this is a contributory benefit.

I think the Government sees widows and widowers as easy pickings. All the stuff in the Telegraph article about dependency and remarrying is Victorian, and apparently the Tories believe all their benefit cutting is popular with the electorate, who they want to be baying for the blood of 'scroungers' through the Daily Mail.

I know a lot about the way the media works and anyone who thinks that story just arrived in the Telegraph is naieve. There will have been a meeting with someone senior on the paper and someone from the Tory party, who will have had a list of topics they want covered.

I think this needs a wider audience - do we really want to end the link between paying national insurance and receiving that kind of benefit? And widows and widowers are scroungers? Really?

I am going to do my best to see it gets a wider audience, but in the meantime it would be great if people could write to their MPs.

An easy way to do that is through the website They Work For You (just google that) and they make it easy for you to send an email to your MP directly, and they will also fax your letter to Lord Freud.

HalleLouja Sun 19-Aug-12 09:17:47

Here is a link I found for contacting MPs

www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 26-Aug-12 19:43:00

I was widowed 23/1/2011 with 2 teenagers at home and 1 at university. I work full time but our household income fell by over £80,000 pa and whilst life insurance paid the mortgage and income it is pitiful compared to our previous income. My husband paid NI contributions for over 25 years and will never get a pension/we never claimed any benefits; if he had died later I would not get the money I am getting for 3 years until my youngest is 18. The government will save thousands compared to what they would have paid in pension to DH. The crass comment that it stops people getting married again is insensitive and cruel implying that my husband is replaceable and he wasn't.

HiHowAreYou Sun 26-Aug-12 19:59:10

This is a dreadful and cruel idea. Can mumsnet do a campaign I wonder?

DestinationUnknown Tue 28-Aug-12 22:25:09

Basically the DWP has chosen to ignore anything in consultation responses about the long term impacts that spousal bereavement entails on parents of small children. They pretty much acknowlege this in the opening Lines if their response. They are in effect scrapping WPA and increasing the one-off Bereavement Benefit.

The DWP draft policy (ths is a fair way beyond initial consultation stxages alas) states The Government recognises the important role that the contributory principle plays in people’s experience of accessing benefits by creating a sense of entitlement that removes the stigma often associated with claiming means-tested benefits. Yet at the same time, bereavement benefits are paid in the event of the premature death of a working-age spouse or civil partner. Expecting a complete National Insurance record in such circumstances is clearly inappropriate. CLEARLY INAPPROPRIATE?? So govt won't have to pay out anything for a pension, and your spouse may have contributed 10,20 or more years of NI payments but it's inappropriate to expect any sort of help based on that contribution?

I did write to my MP in rather emotional terms at the time of this consultation, and I also questioned with the DWP whether they had done enough to publicise it. Apparently it was too expensive to tell those in receipt of WPA about the consultation, yet they can write to tell us about our £10 "Christmas bonus" payment. I got Nothing back from MP and DWP felt consultation had been perfectly open and sufficiently publicised. I will write again to my MP.

The bit about remarrying is not explicit in the DWP response btw so must be some other ministerial or press office comment.

DestinationUnknown Tue 28-Aug-12 22:26:26

Bad typos sorry.

DWP response here btw

NoComet Tue 28-Aug-12 22:43:54

Remarry?

Where if, heaven forbid, DH was to die is a SAHM living in the middle of no where suddenly supposed to find a new husband from.

I'm 44 all the men I know are married with families of their own.

I have two beautiful DDs, I'd be very very wary of getting involved with any man I didn't know well.

Any way I married my first proper BF and we fell straight in to living together at weekends. It's a standing joke that we've never been on a date. I would have a clue how to find a BF.

Honestly what planet do these idiots live on.

exoticfruits Wed 29-Aug-12 07:27:41

The money has nothing to do with whether you marry again or not. I was in a very similar position to you StarBallBunny but after 6 years I did meet someone out of the blue - someone who hadn't been married before and now have 2 more DCs. However it is insensitive and cruel to even mention it - I don't know which planet they are on, but one thing is for sure- they don't have personal experience of being widowed.

fossil97 Wed 29-Aug-12 07:51:22

This is staggering. I will write to my MP as well. I wonder if the bereavement charities are involved?

When DH's best friend died leaving a large, young family without a breadwinner, it was about four years before the mum was in a position to work (having been a SAHM for over a decade so not exactly ready to walk into a job). It was a full time job trying to hold the family together and get the children through counselling, etc. And TBH widow's benefit is so small it doesn't sway the decision one way or the other, jobseekers allowance when the youngest child turns 5 has forced that. It is just a bit of help that for once, doesn't come off your other benefits.

Penny pinching from a benefit that only effects a few people anyway

A 5 year review might conceivably be more appropriate.

TheBlackShiksa Mon 03-Sep-12 11:49:31

I am SO upset by this, when my dad passed away unexpectedly my mum a 36 year old widow with 4 kids, school fees, a huge mortgage and bills coming out of her ears racked with bills this benefit was a lifeline for her. Even though she couldn't pay the mortgage she could put food on the table, because in the depth of grief, when the well wishers are gone, and you're all alone, bills still have to be paid. These Fing Tories,

SisyphusDad Sat 08-Sep-12 21:25:54

So let me get this right...

In less than one year, as the parent of two youngish (5 and 8) children who lost their mother to cancer and leukaemia, I'm expected (with no family support - we haven't got any) to:
- sort out all the admin - funeral, will, probate, all the other rubbish, associated with someone's death;
- completely restructure my life from being sole breadwinner to all-round adult and parent;
- negotiate a complete change of role with work to fit around the fact that I'm now a totally lone parent as opposed to someone who's available 24x7;
- arrange childcare to enable me to continue to work sufficient to keep my family going (see above).

That's on top of...
- Managing my life, that of my children and a cat all day, every day;
- Being a classic introvert;
- Coping with clinical anxiety and depression anyway;
- Grieving for my loss (-es - throughout my life there have been several).

And the Government's expecting me to have the time, energy and motivation to go out and find and marry a partner who I like (love would be nice), who works for my kids and who likes me!

And this same Government thinks I'm being deterred from getting married because they (hopefully - I'm still waiting) pay me a bit of money every month? Ground control to brain cell, come in!

exoticfruits Sat 08-Sep-12 22:17:27

You have it right SisyphusDad - they are on another planet- as said earlier.

stargirl1701 Sat 08-Sep-12 22:36:05

I am appalled by this. I truly believe in a contributory system and thought the Conservatives did too. Shocking proposal and offensive language. Dreadful.

KFIB Sun 30-Dec-12 12:33:40

I am outraged and near to tears by the mere suggestion that, after a year a bereaved parent is ready to stand alone, and is not deemed entitled to any benefit beyond 12 months.

I lost my husband in 2010 and have been treated like a criminal. My late husband had worked all his life, was older than me and retired in 1997 receiving a small pension and state pension.

We were led to believe in the DWP booklets sent to us, in the event of his death before mine, I would be entitled to widows pension, as the rules were then in 1997. That all changed, yes I get WPA at the moment, but, if I lose the £100 per week when my 15 year old leaves education, I will face poverty. I have worked all my married life, to help keep my children fed and clothed, I have never been able to save for a pension. Never been on out of work benefits.

When the WPA ceases I will have an income of £56 a week. I will not be able to keep my car, living rural, I would have to stop my job after 22 years. Not to mention how I would be able to continue with caring for my mother who lives some distance from me.

I look after my mum, along side my daughter, job, house etc....alone.

My husband's full NI contributions will be meaningless soon, and I am worried this government is stripping the innocent people of this country naked, financially.

The crux being the country has been left to get into debt by the ''leaders in power'' and now we are all being targeted and hounded without a care from the current government as to what affect that will have on people's mental and physical well being.
If we rob someone we go to prison, if the banks in the UK and powers that be misappropriate money, they get bonuses. Something is VERY wrong.

I am scared witless as I don't know what to do. I have suffered grief, loss, and now severe depression brought on my the removal of what my late husband paid for, widows allowances via his NI contributions over 40 years.

Somehow we need to stand up to this treatment as it is archaic and no way to encourage and help bereaved people cope. It is punishing those in grief, and putting a deadline on when grief ends this is outrageous. Time for the people in the UK to make a stand! Form a petition against being deprived of what has been contributed to in the first place, NI contributions to pay for widows support.

IcanandIwill Fri 11-Jan-13 14:32:48

As I said earlier it feels like an insult. It's been a few months since I originally posted on this thread. Life has moved on and in reality it's getting more difficult to cope. I have a baby and two other young DC. If WPA was to end in 3 months (12 months since DH) died, it would compound an already impossible situation. At the moment I get little sleep, am carer 24/7 for three young DC. The WPA helps make life more manageable. To withdraw support from young bereaved families at this stage shows no compassion or understanding for the tough, tough challenges we face every minute if every day.

meditrina Fri 11-Jan-13 14:37:42

As it's a while since the thread began, has the consultation period closed? And did any actual proposals result from it?

noddyholder Fri 11-Jan-13 14:41:41

I am sickened by this govt Every day another nail in the coffin of human decency.

angryman1 Tue 12-Feb-13 08:10:55

I have just found myself in the position of losing this pension that my late wife paid for because I have had the gall to meet someone. The wpa was paid for by my late wifes NI contributions and I feel ad though I am being robbed by the government why should my new partner bear the financial burden of me losing nearly £400 per month just because we fell in love she by the way is also widowed with grown up children my son is 11 and I believe should have the right to his mothers pension

dippymother Fri 15-Feb-13 11:50:29

WPA used to be paid up until any "dependents" were 18. I was widowed in 2009 and received WPA for my youngest child for two years until she was 18. The rules were that, because I was too young to qualify for a pension, and I had a child under 18, I would receive this support. When your children were 18 or older (technically adults), you didn't get the benefit anymore because you were then able to return to work etc and support yourself and your family. The benefit was always paid gross, although it is taxable if you receive other income which would take you above the tax threshold. I was never able to claim a widows pension, so assume this was discontinued many years ago.

Like the other posters on here, I am outraged that, in future, WPA may only be paid for a year - although the Bereavement Allowance (in place in 2009) which was paid to bereaved spouses with no dependents was only paid for 1 year anyway.

If my DCs had been young when my DH died, I would have struggled enormously and feel very strongly that spouses left with young children should have this lifeline until, at the very least, their dependents are old enough not to need childcare etc.

Grahamalone Wed 06-Nov-13 08:27:53

My Mandy died in April and I was led to believe that the WPA ended after 52 weeks. My son is almost 14 and I have no intention of remarrying. i have my own one man business which I haven't really focussed thus I've not made much money due to the grief, depression and extra responsibility. The WPA has helped us a lot and kept the wolf away from the door. Can anyone verify how long this benefit will stay available. thanks

deskjet3070 Mon 03-Feb-14 15:34:13

I only found out about these proposed changes by chance about 3 weeks ago.

I am a 41 year old married father of 2 young boys & I am terminally ill with cancer, therefore this change will have a significant impact on my family.

Therefore I went to see my MP (Conservative) about it as soon as I found out. He was very sympathetic & knew nothing about these changes.

Anyway, despite his initial apparent support I have drawn a blank as today I received a fob-off letter from Lord Freud (the unelected 'Minister for Welfare Reform' who following a morally dubious career in the City is now busying himself in the aftermath of the financial crisis by making the poor pay for the risk-taking of the rich).

What I can tell you based on that letter & the other documentation I have received from my MP is as follows:

- Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) will replace Widowed Parents Allowance (WPA)

- According to Freud's letter, BSP will be introduced 'after the introduction of the single tier pension'

- According to the policy documents I received, BSP will come into effect from April 2016 for new claims.

- Those already in receipt of WPA 'will be transitionally protected & will not be affected by the change'. (So as long as I die before April 2016, then my family should still receive WPA).

The key differences between WPA & BSP:

1) Bereavement Payment: the one off Bereavement Payment will be increased to £5,000 under BSP, from £2,000 under WPA.

2) Reduced period of payment: WPA is paid whilst the child is eligible for Child Benefit (i.e. potentially up to 18 years). BSP will be paid for 12 MONTHS ONLY.

3) Amount paid: BSP will be capped @ £400/month, whereas depending on circumstances WPA could be more (e.g. if deceased had a perfect NI contributions record, then a widow with 2 children could receive approx £468/month).

4) NI Contributions: BSP will have relaxed NI contributions criteria, whereas the amount of WPA paid was dependent upon the deceased's NI contributions. Therefore BSP completely erases the contributory principle of National Insurance payments & benefits.

5) Benefit Cap: BSP is to be disregarded in full for Universal Credit & the household benefit cap, whereas WPA counts towards the household benefit cap & is taken into account when establishing eligibility for means tested benefits. Therefore further severing the contributory principle.

In Summary:
The biggest winners under the new system are widows who are already in receipt of means-tested benefits & where the deceased had made minimal NI contributions, as they will now get more under BSP than they would under WPA.

The biggest losers under the new BSP (compared to the old WPA) are widows with young children that don't qualify for means tested benefits & whose dead husbands have made substantial Income Tax & NI contributions (i.e. my wife & children).

So, having now been given the brush off by my MP I'm not sure what to do next.

The bill has already been passed by the Commons & is now in the House of Lords.

Does anybody have any idea whether anything can still be done?

I was interested to see that when The Daily Mail reported on the proposals it was very hostile to it (even though the DM usually approves of any sort of benefit cuts).

I guess even the DM thought that widows & bereaved children were a soft target:
www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2348637/Widows-left-abandoned-snatch-vital-benefit-changes-pension-system.html

Now the details have been published, including the destruction of the contributory principle (the very foundation of the Welfare State) I'm sure they would be even more against it.

Does anybody have any ideas how to go about getting a newspaper involved in an issue like this?

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