Bereavement benefits are currently paid to provide financial support for spouses and civil partners following premature death of their partner during working life. Annually Managed Expenditure (AME) for benefit payments is projected to be around £550m in 2017/18. These benefits have been amended since state protection for widows was introduced in 1925; however incremental changes have blurred the principles behind them and their function, and resulted in a complex payment and contribution system. Government action is needed to ensure the benefits continue to effectively support the working age bereaved in a way that is coherent with the wider welfare and pensions system.
The proposal for the reformed benefit, Bereavement Support Payment (BSP), starting in 2017/18 at the earliest, aims: to simplify the payment system by moving to a more uniform structure, with support focused on the period immediately following bereavement; and to simplify the contribution conditions, with a single rule irrespective of age and child dependent status. This should support people through the difficult early months following bereavement in a more transparent way, so that the reformed benefit works more effectively as social insurance.
This document assesses the impact of the proposal.