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That cutting benefits to widow/ers with young children by over twenty thousand pounds is heartless and cruel?

(601 Posts)
Somerville Sun 29-Jan-17 10:03:50

My DH was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013 and died in 2014. During both the period he was ill, and immediately afterwards, it was extremely difficult for me to continue working. A well as caring for him and then dealing with the huge administrative burden, I have children for whom continuing to attend school every day and 'cope' with normal life was impossible. Alongside all that I had to somehow try to find a way to live with my own grief. And then get out and learn a living - as a freelancer I'd have had no income at all unless I continued to work.

The bereavement benefits I received helped me immeasurably.
- I got a bereavement payment of £2000 which helped cover the immediate few months after his death when I could barely get dressed - let alone work.
- I also got a monthly amount of widowed parents allowance - about £450. (Non means tested but taxable, meaning that as my earnings increased I returned some of this to the government through my tax bill. However, I knew the safety net was there when my earnings dropped again - as indeed they did at one point when one of my children could only manage half days at school.)
I've remarried so no longer qualify - fair enough - but if hadn't I'd have received this until my youngest child left school.

However, the support available for parents who are experience the devastation of becoming widowed after April 1st this year is changing.
- £3,500 immediately.
- £100 per month for the next 18 months.

That's it.

Research by the Childhood Bereavement Network (CBN) suggests 91% of widowed parents will be supported for a shorter period of time than they would under the current system, which can pay out until the youngest child leaves school. It says the typical working family will lose out on more than £12,000, and expects a working parent with young children to lose even more – £23,500 on average. link here

Widowed parents are lone parents without any shared care with an ex partner. Without any maintenance payments from a former partner. And with bereaved, confused and devastated children.

How about it MN? Am I unreasonable to think this change is cruel? And if not, what can I do about it?

Somerville Sun 29-Jan-17 10:05:06

From April 5th. Not April 1st.

Allthewaves Sun 29-Jan-17 10:09:36

There not enough money to go around, our health service is collapsing, they can't afford benefits - it does suck.

I'm looking this month to take some form of insurance - not just life insurance we have - to help if me or dh became ill.

Flisstizzy Sun 29-Jan-17 10:15:38

Hi OP, sorry for you loss. Yes it does seem cruel though me, however, sadly it appears to be in line with what we expect from this government.
Just trying to think this through, what is the alternative ? The bereaved parent has to go back to work sooner, or get a job, increase hours if part time, or make sure they have adequate insurance payments?
I don't know what the answer is, but it does seem like a kick on the teeth for a very vulnerable person.

DriveInSaturday Sun 29-Jan-17 10:16:35

Allthewaves, you're missing the point.

Somerville Sun 29-Jan-17 10:17:49

Yes life assurance would be sensible, especially if this change does indeed go through.
We were decently insured in terms of the house/mortgage but the last thing I wanted to do was have the hassle (for me) and trauma (for my kids) of moving to release some equity to live off. If the monthly amount had been as low as this and for as short a period of time as this then I'd have had to. Many others won't have that choice.

bythewatersedge Sun 29-Jan-17 10:18:08

It's horrendously sad, but widowers and widows are also entitled presumably to the same benefits as other lone parents. Life insurance is also a must if you have young children. I appreciate some can't get it, though.

Somerville Sun 29-Jan-17 10:20:07

Thanks Fliss. I will always miss my DH and losing him has changed me. But I'm in a good place in my life otherwise so I feel like I can speak up.
Working longer hours is often impossible for widowed parents. They don't have a partner to share the load of childcare.

LemonSqueezy0 Sun 29-Jan-17 10:21:07

How is allthewaves missing the point? There's a certain amount of money to go around-something has to give unfortunately. It's a very sad situation but so are the other underfunded areas such as the NHS. It's responding directly to the point, however unpalatable that is.

Valentine2 Sun 29-Jan-17 10:23:02

There not enough money to go around, our health service is collapsing, they can't afford benefits - it does suck.
Really? Where is all the money going? If there isn't any money to go around and I am STILL paying the same tax, what the fuck is going on?
It's people like you who normalise stuff like this. Bit by bit. Step by step. And then realise when it's too late already.

EZA15 Sun 29-Jan-17 10:24:17

allthewaves what other insurance would you take out to assist with things like these? I struggle getting my head around things like these as such, this is an area I'm woefully ignorant in. No point in asking DH as he sticks his head in the sand and thinks he's invincible

SheldonCRules Sun 29-Jan-17 10:25:10

It's not cruel, a lump sum and twelve months of payments is still in place. That's without insurance and the persons own salary.

We have a crisis in the NHS and school funding is being cut, paying benefits for upto twenty years without question is far too much when it's so much more needed in other areas.

There's not enough money for everything so it's priorities.

Hercules12 Sun 29-Jan-17 10:27:11

I didnt know these benefits existed. It's sad they're being cut but as other say, the cuts are everywhere.

lokisglowstickofdestiny1 Sun 29-Jan-17 10:30:09

EZA - critical illness cover you can usually get in the same policy as life assurance - so it pays out either on death or in the event you have a very serious illness. Permenant health insurance also pays out an income in the event you are unable to work due to longer term health issues. Take a look at the money advice service

AwkwardTurtles Sun 29-Jan-17 10:31:40

I think people should have life insurance for this reason, rather than expect to be supported

Hercules12 Sun 29-Jan-17 10:33:49

We have life assurance policy for this reason. I do think there has to be some responsibility taken by people for themselves.

GreyMist Sun 29-Jan-17 10:35:25

It's a shame these benefits are being cut but there are cuts everywhere.

Also to clarify, plenty of lone parents are left with no one to co parent with, no maintenance and confused and upset children. Best to care about each other rather than pit groups of people against each other.

JanuaryMoods Sun 29-Jan-17 10:36:22

People should take out life insurance. There is a limit to how much is in the purse and there are others more deserving, sorry.

RandyMagnum2 Sun 29-Jan-17 10:36:52

I didn't even know this existed, but looking at what people got I'd have said £450 a month for potetnially 18 years (Assuming youngest child is a newborn) was overly generous (harsh given the circumstances, I know), so I can see why it's been cut, and as mentioned above, widows will surely be entitled to the same as people who are lone parents.

RedHelenB Sun 29-Jan-17 10:37:25

Thing is, as other people have said, single parents who's partners have gone off dont receive this payments. Also, you can have life insurance that could pay off a mortgage for not too much extra a month. Ideally yes, but as others have said there are cuts everywhere and 18 months is better than nothing.

VacantExpression Sun 29-Jan-17 10:37:25

I didn't know these benefits existed either- though it is a shame they are being cut.
We have life assurance, Critical illness insurance, unfortunately we can't afford PHI. I can't recommend it enough, its very reassuring to have the safety net there.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 29-Jan-17 10:38:58

I'm sorry for your loss and glad to hear you're in a better place. flowers In an ideal world, of course this would remain. However, sadly, this is in line with all the other cuts. It is any more heartless and cruel to cut disability benefits? No, it's the same. It doesn't change how much it hurts though.

ThisIsStartingToBoreMe Sun 29-Jan-17 10:41:15

Problem with taking out life insurance is that they are quick enough to take your payments but always seem to find a way to wangle out of paying out

user1484226561 Sun 29-Jan-17 10:41:21

I think its reasonable, the lump sum to tide you over until the insurance arrives, then a small monthly boost for a long time to help with the readjustment.

Financially a widow/er isn't in a worse position than a someones who's partner goes to jail, or who walks out and refuses to pay maintenance, etc.

Its a sad event, obviously but not one that children typically lose a lot of school over, so rarely impacts on the remaining spouses ability to work.

There is bereavement leave available from employers too, and there are benefits that single parents are entitled to.

I think its fair

lalalalyra Sun 29-Jan-17 10:42:19

It's not a surprise to see this government going for a non means tested benefit.

They are making changes to the widows/widowers allowance for those who don't have children as well.

The one year timing is he biggest issue I have with this change. The first anniversary of his wife's death is when DH and DS1 were at their toughest point. I think it should have been made available for 2 years to allow people the chance to deal with the death abd then make employment changes that they need too. I don't think the country is too poor to give people support at that time.

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