Extending Bereavement Support Payments: Lauren’s story

March 2023

When Lauren’s husband Rob died in June 2022, she started to receive the first of 18 monthly instalments of Bereavement Support Payment to help support herself and her daughter, Amelia. Although she was glad to be eligible for support, she is concerned that 18 months just isn’t long enough to help families like hers get back on her feet financially. Which is why she started a petition to try and persuade the Government to extend BSP for longer.

Lauren and family

“It was Friday the 13th and we were flying out for one final holiday in America before our lives changed forever. I was halfway through my first pregnancy and we were excitedly preparing for this new chapter in our lives while acknowledging things would never be the same again. Little did we know, that was an understatement.

By the end of the holiday Rob would have his first ‘funny turn’, unbeknown to us, a seizure, and the first noticeable symptom of his brain tumour that could have been present for up to ten years prior. Buying our first home, getting married, finding out I was pregnant; the whole time, it was there, growing undetected. It was like our whole life together was suddenly tainted but we pushed through, making the most of things. 

Thankfully, we got two years together as a family after our daughter, Amelia, was born in 2020. Rob was a wonderful natural dad. He and Amelia formed such a close bond in that time. But despite him throwing everything at it – two operations, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, he died in June 2022, at the age of 38.

Just before Rob ended up in hospital, we had moved house to a quiet area as he found excessive noise unbearable after his treatment. When he died, Amelia and I suddenly found ourselves lost and alone, in an unfamiliar area and an unfamiliar home. 

"Life was completely unrecognisable and I was relieved to find WAY and find others who just ‘got it’ to help me through those early days."

One Saturday night, a time mostly spent alone now, I was reading a post on the Facebook group for WAY members with children about the financial struggles people face after losing their husband, wife or partner at a young age. I suggested we write to our local MPs but after going off to look up how to do so, I ended up starting a petition to ask that the Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) should be extended for those with children to be more in line with the Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA) that was scrapped in 2017.

Long before I knew I was going to be widowed at a young age, the Government decided to shorten the length of support for widowed parents for up to 20 years down to just 18 months. This is nowhere near long enough for families like mine to get back on our feet again financially after our lives have been decimated.

Lauren and family

It struck me that children like Amelia not only lose one parent tragically young but often then lose time with their remaining parent as they struggle to keep afloat, not to mention the many other ways the children miss out due to the sudden loss of an income. Rob worked hard right from when he was still at school and paid into his National Insurance pot. But tragically he, and so many others, will never get to draw a pension and their children are left with just 18 months of support. It isn’t good enough.

I will stop receiving BSP before Amelia has even started school, losing the £350 a month that has been helping pay some of our bills while the money we saved so hard for to update the house continuously decreases to help pay for the rest. I now live in a sort of limbo, knowing one day soon I’ll have to sell the house we chose together and make the sums add up before it’s too late. It is a worrying prospect adding even more stress to an already unimaginable situation – and one I now have to face alone.”


"Since the end of the BSP, just after Robert’s 40th birthday last year, things have been very difficult both financially and emotionally. In the current climate, with bills constantly rising, finding extra money month after month is almost impossible and I’m cutting back in every way I can, which often means our daughter missing out on activities many children take for granted.

I am trying to juggle working evenings while bringing her up at home full time until she starts school. The fact the government doesn’t seem to care about children bereaved after 6 April 2017 is truly shocking. It makes me feel like being in this minority group is something to be ashamed of, when in reality children like mine (apparently a child loses a parent every 20 minutes in this country) have just had a really unlucky and unfair start in life. My husband hasn’t been gone for two years but the National Insurance he paid for 22 years is no longer helping me to bring up our daughter."

Find out more about WAY’s campaign on this issue.