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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999

3.Bereavement Benefits


The present widows’ benefits scheme was introduced in 1946. Three main benefits are available to women who are widowed. These are based upon the National Insurance contributions record of the late husband, rather than the widow herself. The three benefits are:

  • Widow’s Payment – a tax-free lump sum payment of £1,000

  • Widowed Mother’s Allowance – This is paid to widows with children, and ends when the youngest child ceases to be a dependant. It consists of a basic allowance for the widow herself, plus an allowance for each child and any SERPS (State Earnings Related Pension) her late husband was entitled to. It is taxable.

  • Widow’s Pension – This is paid to widows over 45 who do not have dependent children. It is taxable and consists of a basic pension plus any SERPS. The amount payable depends on the woman’s age when she was widowed or stopped receiving Widowed Mother’s Allowance.

Under the present arrangements, married men are not entitled to bereavement benefits. This affects some 15,000 newly bereaved widowers and around 35,000 children of widowed fathers each year. (The UK has been under challenge in the European Court of Human Rights over the present scheme.)

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