CAMPAIGN SUCCESS! Bereavement benefits extended to cohabiting parents

February 2023

We are delighted to announce that from Thursday 9 February, cohabiting parents will be able to claim the same bereavement benefits to help bring up their grieving children as if they had been married or in a civil partnership.

This is the culmination of a long campaign for justice for bereaved children, alongside a coalition of bereavement charities including WAY Widowed and Young, the Childhood Bereavement Network and the Child Poverty Action Group.

Collage of campaign images

What does this mean?

The changes to the eligibility criteria mean that cohabiting parents and carers whose partner dies from 9 February 2023 will be able to make a claim for Bereavement Support Payment if they meet the other eligibility criteria. Around 1,800 more families are expected to be able to make a claim each year.

Around 21,000 families will also be able to make retrospective claims. Because the eligibility criteria were found to be unlawful on 30 August 2018, the Government will also make retrospective payments back to that point to those who had missed out because they were not married or in a civil partnership. Some of these families will have been bereaved as long ago as 2001 and may also be eligible under the previous system – Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

How can people make a claim?

Visit for details of the eligibility criteria and how to claim.

What you should know about making a retrospective claim

You will have 12 months (until 9 February 2024) to put in a retrospective claim and get the full amount you are entitled to. Make sure you have the advice and information you need about how a retrospective payment might affect previous and future tax, tax credits and benefits before you put in a claim.

If you are in any doubt about the implications a retrospective payment will have on your wider finances, seek independent advice before you put in a claim. WAY is not able to give individual advice. You can find an adviser here.

“We are very pleased to see that the Government has finally taken action to right this injustice but we are sad that it has taken so long to get to this point. Many of the families who will now be eligible for back payments have endured years of financial hardship and lack of recognition as they waited for these changes."

Georgia Elms, WAY’s Campaign Ambassador.

“I am delighted beyond my wildest dreams that the Government has finally taken the steps needed to right this injustice and am so proud of everyone who played a role in making that happen.

We all played our part for all of those children who have had the misfortune to have lost a parent and who weren’t able to claim support for all those years. Hopefully, we have made life a little easier for thousands of bereaved families. And I will be able to look my four children in the eye and say, ‘I tried to ease your hurt’.” 

Lifetime WAY member Siobhan McLaughlin, who successfully challenged the denial of bereavement benefits following the death of John, her partner of 23 years.

Read stories from WAY members and campaigners here...