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Bereavement benefits to be extended to co-habiting partners with children

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Bereavement payments may soon be extended to people who were not married or in a civil partnership but who lived together and had dependent children.

If approved by Members at January's Tynwald sitting, changes in legislation would be backdated to 30 August 2018 and include expectant mothers in line with a recent change to legislation in the United Kingdom.

The changes are being brought forward after UK courts ruled that, by restricting eligibility to bereavement benefits to people in a legal union, legislation discriminated between children on the grounds of the legal status of their parents’ relationship and was therefore incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

A Remedial Order was subsequently made under the UK’s Human Rights Act and extended entitlement to bereavement benefits for co-habitees who have dependent children. The change had retrospective effect back to the date of a approve an Order which makes essentially the same changes to legislation covering bereavement benefits in the Isle of Man.

In effect, it would extend the Bereavement Support Payment and Widowed Parent’s Allowance to people who were co-habiting with their partner, but not in a legal union with them, and, at the time of their partner’s death, they either had a dependent child or children living with them, or they were pregnant.

Treasury Minister Dr Alex Allinson MHK said:

The Order to be considered by Tynwald largely replicates changes introduced in the United Kingdom and will mean co-habitees with dependent children will become eligible to claim the same amount of support as spouses and civil partners. Furthermore, provision is made for retrospective claims, dating back to 30 August 2018, which may be paid as a lump sum.’