Benefit cut equals further hurt for the bereaved

Elissa Coster, The Brain Tumour Charity's Children and Families Service Manager, explains why a decision to cut benefits paid to bereaved parents is not in the interests of affected families.

It is unacceptable that the Government has taken a decision to cut the benefit designed to support widowed parents. Under the previous system, widowed parents were able to claim this benefit until their youngest child left full-time education. We know that the security of a regular long-term income from this benefit is invaluable, and to take this away after 18 months is a disgrace.

Putting a timeframe on grief

It feels as if the Government is putting a deadline on how long a partner can grieve for their loss, assuming that after 18 months, a secondary income should be sourced and finances must be in order.

When people are grieving their loved one, facing parenting and running a household alone, and also often have to reduce their working hours, how is this realistic?

These pressures can be overwhelming, and to add another stress and worry about how they are going to cope financially in such a short space of time is simply unfair, out of touch and insensitive.

The reality of life with a brain tumour

We know from our report 'Losing Myself: The reality of life with a brain tumour', that a brain tumour diagnosis takes a financial toll on a family - 28% of people have to give up work entirely and 1 in 2 experience financial difficulty.

You can't predict the long-term impact a significant loss will have on a child and the family or how they will react.

Very few people want to claim any sort benefit at all, and only do so under extreme circumstances such as this. For an economic argument in favour of claiming this support, you only need to consider the national insurance contributions the parent who has passed away may have made to a pension that they will never claim.

Supporting families when they need it most

During this most difficult of times, we should be providing support for families who have lost a loved one. To lose a whole income from a parent can have a significant impact on children and the surviving mum or dad.

These cuts target those most vulnerable and we don't feel that the ripple effect has been thoroughly thought through.

Sign the petition

In the lead up to the general election, we're supporting our Young Ambassador Susannah Keogh's petition to extend the period that widowed parents can receive bereavement benefits.

#YourVoiceMatters - show your support and sign the petition.

To find out more about the four policy changes that we want to see candidates commit to this general election and see how you can get involved in our campaign, visit our election 2017 page.

This article was first published on 13 April 2017.