Next Tuesday (October 29th) MPs have a chance to reconsider plans to reform Widowed Parent’s Allowance: a lifeline to those bringing up children alone after the death of their partner.
Cruse, along with a number of other organisations, is seriously concerned that the proposals, included in the Pensions Bill, will make bereaved families worse off and hamper children’s adjustment to the devastating loss of their mother or father. As children develop their understanding of what has happened and what their parent’s death means to them, they revisit their grief and experience it in new ways. Their needs can be much greater in the second and third year after the death, and their surviving parent needs to be available, responsive and able to continue familiar routines. This could mean working fewer hours, or taking on a job that fits better with caring for the children alone. The current system of Widowed Parents’ Allowance gives parents the flexibility they need to provide this support.
The government’s plans will undermine parents’ capacity to meet their children’s needs, by drastically reducing the length of time over which payments are made, pressuring widows and widowers to work longer and sooner. 75% of families will be worse off, some by tens of thousands of pounds. Removing this support will mean that families face a greater struggle to regain financial – and emotional – equilibrium.
We can’t know which families will be affected by the death of a parent in years to come. We do know that whoever they are, they will be struggling to help their children rebuild their lives, and need all the support and time that we can afford them.
If you are concerned about this issue, we would urge you to contact your MP and ask them to attend the session and raise your concerns about the benefit changes. You can download a suggested letter and find out more about how to contact your MP here.
Read more stories and previous coverage here.