Palliative and bereavement support charity Sue Ryder is calling on the Government to better support people who have been bereaved, as many are missing out on vital benefits and face falling into debt to pay for basic funeral packages.
The national charity has made a submission to the Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry looking into Bereavement Support Payment. After consulting with its online bereavement community and family support service, Sue Ryder is urging the Committee to:
- Extend the eligibility for Bereavement Support Payment to include unmarried couples, in addition to married or civil partners.
- Extend the deadline within which people must apply for the benefit from three months to two years, or find a way to ensure it is paid automatically without having to apply. A bereaved person is likely to still be coming to terms with their loss in the first three months and applying for benefits during that period can often feel like a task too high.
- The 18 month period for payments should be extended or be made more flexible to allow for individual circumstances. This could be particularly supportive for those with dependent children or older adults.
- Create a simple, easy to navigate hub offering advice on all of the practical aspects of handling a death, including benefits and financial assistance.
Heidi Travis, CEO at Sue Ryder, commented:
“We can and must do better at supporting those coping with bereavement. The inflexibility of access, eligibility and duration of financial assistance from the Bereavement Support Payment is acting as a barrier to receiving support at what can for many be, the most difficult time of their lives.
“Bereavement can affect people in many different ways; feelings of shock, overwhelming sadness, guilt or anger are completely normal. When grieving, worrying about financial matters can be unbearable, so we must do all that we can to support people.”
For more information visit Sue Ryder