FOI request reveals bereaved children are “effectively invisible” to Government

Bereaved children are effectively invisible to the Government, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Just seven months after the government cut the benefits available to bereaved UK families, the Life Matters task force has revealed that there is no central record of the number of children affected by the bereavement of a parent.

The alarming revelation comes as a result of an FOI request asking for the number of children bereaved of a parent in the UK, to which both the General Register Office and the Department of Work and Pensions stated: “The information is not held by the department.”

This information has been released by the Life Matters task force, which was brought together by comparethemarket.com in April 2017 in response to the significant changes to bereavement benefits.

The changes will leave 75 per cent of UK families affected by bereavement worse off financially than they would have been under the old system, with the average working widowed parent losing out on over £12,000.

Today, in response to this new information, the task force is introducing its six recommendations for policymakers on how best to support those affected by bereavement – both emotionally and financially.

The recommendations include:

  • Adapting the information registered at death to include any details on dependent children of both married and unmarried couples;
  • Training all teachers and carers of children on how to manage and support bereaved children;
  • A call for the government to confirm that Personal, Social, Health & Economic Education (PHSE) will become statutory, so that all children can learn about bereavement and grief within a safe, supported and age-appropriate curriculum
  • Introducing a cross-government bereavement strategy, and identifying a government lead for this
  • A call for every organisation to have a bereavement policy
  • A call for the government to open a new consultation into how it can better support bereaved families

Member of the Life Matters task force and author of The Grief Survival Guide, Jeff Brazier, says: “When the Life Matters task force came together earlier this year, it was because we knew that more needed to be done to support families across the UK who have suffered the bereavement of a parent or loved one.

“These recommendations provide a realistic plan of action through which policymakers can address the issues faced by bereaved families and pave the way for a better future for the next generation affected by the loss of a parent.”

Also released by the Life Matters task force today, is a video featuring a number of children affected by bereavement appealing to their local MP on what more should to be done to help others in their situation.

Watch it in full below:

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