Rio Ferdinand hits out at Government over cuts to payments for widowed parents

 Former England captain Rio Ferdinand said the Government is "wrong" to cut back on the length of time widowed parents can receive bereavement benefits

Commons Wikipedia

The new Bereavement Support Payment will replace a suite of bereavement benefits and provide bereaved parents with an initial lump sum and up to 18 monthly payments.

Under current legislation, widowed parents can receive payments until their youngest child leaves school.

Speaking to Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5 live, Ferdinand said: "I don't understand how the Government can actually say there's a time scale on it, because there is no time scale on anything to do with bereavement.

"Every individual is different."

Commenting on the time it takes to recover from a bereavement, he added: "One person may take six months. Another person may take 10 years.

"There isn't a time when you can say, 'Yeah I'm over it'. Putting a number on it is the wrong thing to do."

Ferdinand's wife Rebecca, the mother of their three children, died in 2015 aged 34 after a battle with breast cancer.

He was talking ahead of a BBC1 documentary about how he has coped with the bereavement.

The proposed changes will not affect those already receiving the benefits.

The new payment would replace the Bereavement Allowance, Widowed Parent's Allowance and Bereavement Payment, for those who lose a spouse or civil partner on or after April 6.

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "We're updating an old system that was based on the outdated assumption that a widowed parent relied on their spouse for income, and would never work themselves.

"This doesn't reflect people's lives today.

"The 18 month Bereavement Support Payment helps with the immediate costs when someone loses their spouse or civil partner and the support can help protect families from sudden financial difficulties.

"Once the payments come to an end, there are means-tested benefits which can continue to support the bereaved, especially those who are bringing up children.

"The new payment is easier to claim, won't be taxed and doesn't affect the amount received from other benefits, helping those on the lowest incomes the most."

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