WAY Widowed and Young’s Georgia Elms attended the official reading of the Judgment in Siobhan McLaughlin’s case at the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom this morning (3 October).
Georgia will also accompany Siobhan when she visits Downing Street at midday to deliver a letter asking the government to implement changes to bereavement benefits that will end the unlawful discrimination of the bereaved children of unmarried parents as a matter of urgency.
Georgia, who has been leading WAY’s campaign to highlight this injustice, said: “Many people who join WAY Widowed & Young after they lose their partner at a young age tell us how utterly shocked they were to find out they weren’t eligible for any bereavement support because they weren’t married. Many WAY members had been living with their partner for years and had several children together. Not only do they find it terribly insulting that their partnership is not recognised by the government when their loved one dies, this also has a terrible impact on finances of the family members left behind.
We believe it is absolutely unjust that co-habiting couples are not entitled to receive the same financial lifeline as married couples, who have paid exactly the same amount into the National Insurance pot from which this money is drawn. Their children are being penalised and discriminated against for a choice made by their parents – many of whom are simply unaware that their decision not to get married would have such a devastating financial impact on their family if one of the couple happens to die. Many WAY members agree that this system is not fit for the 21st century and needs to be changed immediately to protect bereaved families from more financial and emotional hardship in future.
After this landmark judgement in the Supreme Court, we urge the government to respond by extending bereavement support to unmarried cohabiting parents. Nothing can take away the pain of losing a loved one, but proper financial support can at least help provide the building blocks for a better future for the families affected.”
More information about the implications of the Supreme Court judgment for bereaved parents can be found on the Childhood Bereavement Network website: