Celebrating campaign success: Pete's Story

January 2023

WAY member Pete Bailey has been campaigning to extend bereavement support to cohabiting couples since his partner died in 2010, when the couple’s youngest son was just six weeks old. Their boys are now almost 13 and 16.

The couple were engaged to be married but, because they weren’t actually married, they missed out on over 12 years of support through the Widowed Parent’s Allowance. Thanks to the 2023 change in legislation, Pete’s family were potentially eligible for back payments going back to 30 August 2018, as well as payments going forward until his youngest son has left full-time education.

Pete and his wife

Pete's Story

How does it feel for you knowing that the Bereavement Benefits Remedial Order has finally been approved by MPs?

The overriding emotion for me - having believed that our boys were being unfairly discriminated against ever since their Mum died in 2010 - is relief. Relief that justice has prevailed and relief that the extraordinary length of time cohabiting couples with children have been made to wait for this change despite all the additional challenges they’ve faced due to Covid-19, and now the cost of living crisis, is almost over.

Our boys are now almost 13 and 16 years old respectively. Our youngest was just 6 weeks old when his Mum died, which made the denial of support at the time feel even more cruel and unjust.

How does it feel that your relationship has been validated in this way?

I'm sure for many it'll be very important for their loving relationships to finally be recognised by the state in this way. However, for me it doesn't feel that important because the rule of having to be married in order to receive bereavement benefits to support your children never made sense and I'll not have anyone tell me that our 7 year relationship meant any less than anyone else’s.

We had 2 children together, bought a home together and were engaged to be married, so actually being married would have made little to no difference in my eyes. However, having intended to get married it will always be a regret that we didn’t make it happen before being cruelly parted.

Pete's two sons

Are you happy with the Remedial Order and what you stand to receive in the way of back payments?

To be honest, the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the denial of these payments to cohabiting couples with children was incompatible with human rights law, and this denial has been occurring since 2001, when Widowed Parent's Allowance (WPA) was first introduced (since replaced by Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) on 6 April 2017).

This means that cohabiting couples with children have been unlawfully denied these payments all this time and so, morally, the payments should have been backdated fully to 2001 so that nobody lost out. Having said that, personally I’m trying to look on the positive side as is best in these situations and I know we're lucky to be receiving any payment at all, which is all thanks to Siobhan McLaughlin challenging her denial of WPA after being with her partner for 23 years and all those who've helped get the Bereavement Benefits Remedial Order to where it is today.

The payments will be used for day to day living costs and trying to make sure my children have the same opportunities in life as those children whose parents were married when one of them sadly passed away.