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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999

Background

Summary of changes

The changes introduced by this part of the Act consist of :

  • a “Bereavement Payment” of £2,000 paid to both widows and widowers on bereavement. This doubles the value of the current lump sum paid to widows;

  • a “Widowed Parent’s Allowance” equivalent to Widowed Mother’s Allowance, and including any Additional Pension (SERPS) – for parents who are bereaved of their husband or wife. Entitlement continues until the youngest or only dependent child in the family is aged 16 or up to age 19 if still in full-time further education. This benefit will be available to fathers already widowed when the scheme comes into force;

  • widows and widowers aged 45 and over with no dependent children will receive a weekly, age-related benefit (with no SERPS component) for one year. This is to be known as a “Bereavement Allowance”;

  • only men and women widowed before the new provisions take effect will have entitlement to Incapacity Benefit on the basis of their late spouses’ contributions.

The package of proposals includes two further measures which can be introduced by regulations using existing powers:

  • £10 of a person’s Widowed Parent’s Allowance will be disregarded in assessing entitlement to income-related benefits (such as Income Support);

  • men and women aged 55 and over at the start of the new arrangements who are widowed during the subsequent five years and whose entitlement to the Bereavement Allowance has expired, will have special access to Income Support. In other words, they will not be required to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance and meet its conditions of being available for and actively seeking work. In addition, a new premium will be available in the income-related benefits to ensure that these recipients retain an income that is at least equivalent to the amount of the Bereavement Allowance.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.

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