More than 12,000 people have just over a fortnight to claim a benefit that is worth thousands of pounds. They are parents who lived with a partner as a couple but were not married or civil partnered, and their partner died before 9 February 2023.
A change in the law meant that from that date unmarried parents whose partner dies can claim a benefit called Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) equally with someone who was married or in a civil partnership. But it also opened the door to backdated claims from people whose partner died before 9 February 2023 if they still had dependent children on 30 August 2018.
If their partner died before 6 April 2017 the claim will be for an earlier benefit called Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA) and in some of those cases their partner could have died as long ago as April 2001.
But take-up of this valuable benefit is very poor. The Department for Work and Pensions estimated that 9,000 people would be eligible to backdated BSP worth on average £7,730 tax-free. But the latest figures indicate that only 3,620 people have claimed it. It also estimates that 8,000 people could be eligible for the backdated WPA but here the take-up rate is even worse: fewer than 900 have claimed. The DWP reckons this benefit is worth far more – £19,500 on average.
To claim the benefit, all these statements need to be true for you:
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• You lived with someone but were not married to them or in a civil partnership with them
• Your partner died before 9 February 2023 (and possibly as long ago as April 2001)
• When your partner died, you were under pension age and had children or were pregnant
• You were entitled to child benefit for at least one of those children on 30 August 2018
Despite the low level of claims, the Department is not extending the deadline. Claims must be made by Thursday 8 February, via gov.uk
(search “bereavement support payment” and scroll down to “If your partner died before 9 February 2023”). There’s a helpline on 0800
151 2012, and more info at childhoodbereavementnetwork.org.uk and widowedandyoung.org.uk.