Government Services for the Bereaved

Danielle Houghton

Community Writer

Whether you are prepared or unprepared, the pain that comes next when you lose someone so close to you is enormous and beyond compare. Therefore, the UK government and several non-government organizations have facilitated many services for the bereaved to help them get through the loss of a loved one physically and emotionally.

Once the funeral arrangement and the funeral services are over, you need to take a few days of rest to recover your energy to follow the legal procedures after death to avoid possible hassles in the future. This article is a brief guide of where, how, when and for whom you can get bereavement support, financial support for the bereaved and many other bereavement services that might be helpful for you.

1. Tell Us Once Service and the Bereavement Service

The first thing you need to do with a death of a loved one is to inform several governmental offices, bureaus, departments, organizations and banks about it. Notifying them is an essential step as the bereaved may sometimes receive funds from some of these departments to organize the funeral. If you don’t find the time to make these calls, you can ring government’s Tell Us Once Service or the Bereavement Service if you are in Northern Ireland.

Once you register the death in your local registrar, they will issue you the contact details and a unique reference number to contact Tell Us Once Service only if it is available in your area. When you provide them with the required information about your loved one, they will notify the Department for Work and Pensions, Passport Office, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the local council of the deceased, and the public sector or armed forces pension schemes.

If you are on Northern Island, the Bereavement Service will help you notify the offices which paid benefits to the deceased and inform you if you are entitled to claim benefits. You can notify the local post office to stop or redirect posts addressed to your loved one, and by informing the Bereavement Registrar, you can stop getting Junk Mail.

2. Financial Benefits from the Government to the Bereaved

You can apply for the following bereavement support services provided by the government, depending on the nature of your relationship with the deceased and your financial situation.

  1. The Bereavement Support Payment

The Bereavement Payment and the Bereavement Allowance or the Widow’s Pension or the Widowed Parent’s Allowance are officially replaced by the Bereavement Support Payment and is available for only those who have legally married to the one who has died and are 45 years old or above at the time of death of the spouse.

The surviving spouse or civil partners of the deceased may receive a one-time tax-free payment of £3,500 and a monthly payment of £350 for 18 months if they have been left with dependent children or were pregnant at the time of death of their spouse. When there are no dependent children, they receive a one-off lump sum of £2,500 and a monthly payment of £100 for 18 months.

If you have recently lost your husband, wife or civil partner, you can download the required forms to apply via Bereavement Benefits Pack (form BB1) and take it to your local Jobcentre Plus within 52 weeks.

Note that this support can affect your income support, housing benefit, employment, support allowance and also your universal credit. Further, your eligibility is decided only if your partner has paid enough National Insurance contribution, died from an industrial accident or disease, or was under the State Pension Age. If you are in prison, divorced or living with someone else as their partner, you are not entitled to apply for this service.

  1. Guardian’s Allowance

You can claim a tax-free allowance of £16.70 a week per child, provided by the UK government along with the Child Benefit if you have become the guardian of someone else’s children following their death. This allowance is paid monthly or weekly for your convenience and is not affected by the High-Income Child Benefit charge. While you are receiving this benefit, you have to report if there will be any changes in the living conditions of the children.

You can apply for this service by filling out the claim form (BG1) and sending it to the Guardian’s Allowance Unit along with the birth certificates of the children and the death certificates of their parents.

  1. The Funeral Expenses Payment

If you had been responsible for arranging the funeral with the funeral director while receiving a low income and depending on your relationship with the deceased, you are eligible to make this claim within six months from the funeral date. This payment is provided up to £700, which may cover the burial or cremation cost, cost of the funeral arrangement, funeral director’s fee, and hearse, flowers, coffin and transport costs of the bereaved as well.

To claim the Funeral Expenses Payment, you have to get an invoice (not an estimate) of the bills that you had to pay for the funeral from your funeral director in applying. If the estate of the loved one is assessed to have sufficient funds to pay for the funeral, you will have to pay back the amount you have received through this service.

  1. Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

When a child has passed away, their parents or primary caretakers can claim two weeks’ paid time off work to grieve for the loss and handle the necessary administrative work followed by death.

On the occasion such as a child is stillborn after 24 weeks into a pregnancy while the parents are on maternity or paternity leave, they will also be entitled to claim this benefit. The employers have to pay £139.59 per week or no less than 90% of the employee’s average weekly wage and claim it back from the government.

  1. Other Government Benefits

You can get tremendous and all the necessary support from the UK government in donating your organs or your body, or in asking for an extended post-mortem examination from a corner if your loved one’s death is suspicious or unnatural, and in getting the government licenses such as a Burial at Sea License or an Exhumation License.

Bereavement Support and Grief Counseling Organizations may support you to maintain your mental and physical health and, we advise you to take all the necessary support from the UK government and other departments to recover from the pain of loss and get your life back on track.