Theresa May slashes benefits for children who have lost a parent and calls it ‘fair’

Theresa May defends cut in payments for bereaved families

PM says changes, which charities say could leave many grieving families worse off, are fair to taxpayers

Theresa May has defended cuts to bereaved family payments as “fair to taxpayers” in a week where families with a terminally ill parent could see thousands wiped off their benefits if the parent survives beyond new rules introduced later this week.

The rule change will limit payments to widowed parents to a maximum of 18 months. Alan, a terminally ill man from Barnet in north London, called the reforms “callous and brutal” and said they had caused his family extreme anxiety in the last months of his life. The change will cost his young family tens of thousands of pounds.

Speaking on a trip to the Middle East, Mrs May said it was right to slash payments to bereaved children who have lost a parent.

“We need to ensure we have a system which is fair to people who require that help and support – but obviously is also generally fair to taxpayers,” the PM said.

A raft of welfare cuts are due to come into force this week including swingeing reduction in payments to many disabled people, and an end to extra child benefit payments to families which have a third child.

One of the most controversial cuts will see families lose bereavement payments 18 months after a parent has died.

Previously families would get money to support them until a child turned 18 years old.

The cruel cut has been slammed by bereaved parents including England football star Rio Ferdinand, whose wife died leaving him with young kids to bring up on his own.

But Mrs May today defended the cuts, insisting 18 months of payments was actually a compromise decision.

“The new bereavement support payments… are going to replace a number of payments which were there in the past,” she said.

“The aim of the new payment is to ensure that it covers at the time when it’s most crucially needed the extra costs that are experienced following bereavement.

“We have consulted on it with the Social Security Advisory Council, the select committee I think made a report on it as well – as a result of that there have been some changes, so the period will now be 18 months.

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