Find the 21k

September 2023

As the clock ticks down to the February 2024 deadline for cohabiting parents to claim retrospective bereavement benefits, the BBC has learned that only one in four families who are potentially eligible for these payments has put in a claim.

WAY spoke to Radio 4’s MoneyBox show on Saturday, 30 September to call on the Government to do everything in its power to reach out to the estimated 21,000 bereaved families who may be entitled to back payments before the deadline of 9 February 2024. 

In February 2023, the Government extended bereavement support to cohabiting parents in response to two legal challenges and a decade-long campaign by bereavement charities including WAY Widowed and Young and the Childhood Bereavement Network. But they only gave a 12-month window for retrospective payments.

WAY’s Vicky Anning told MoneyBox: “We think that the deadline is quite arbitrary… It would be absolutely heartbreaking to think of a family who might find out about this on the 9th or 10th of February next year and couldn’t put in a payment claim as a result.”

Listen to the full BBC interview here (around 10 minutes into the show)

WAY member Laura shared her story with MoneyBox to explain the difference the payments had made to her, particularly during the cost-of-living crisis: “It’s made my life just that little bit easier,” she said. “A lot of people are facing this crisis and it’s particularly hard when you are a lone parent family.”

Laura also reminded listeners that this support is based on the National Insurance contributions her late partner made – it’s basically the pension that he never got to draw down:

“This is support that you’re entitled to,” she said. “And I really want to emphasise that because some people don’t feel they should be entitled to it. You absolutely should.”

WAY also called on listeners to help get the word out to potential claimants by telling any friends and family whose partner may have died over the past two decades that they may be potentially be eligible for this support that they missed out on because they weren’t married – and by joining our social media campaign using the hashtag #findthe21k.

Find out more on the campaign pages of our website and help us to find the 21,000 people who may be eligible for retrospective payments. 

Please note that people should seek independent advice before submitting a claim, particularly if they are in receipt of existing benefits. Before submitting an application, please read our FAQs