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Commission Welcomes Government Commitment to Cohabiting Couples with Children

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Commission Welcomes Government Commitment to Cohabiting Couples with Children

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the recent announcement made by the UK Government to extend the entitlements to widowed parent’s allowance and bereavement support payment to cohabiting couples with children.

Chief Commissioner Les Allamby stated:

“We welcome the commitment made in Parliament to rectify the existing gap in entitlement that exists for cohabiting couples with children. This is an issue that was challenged in Northern Ireland initially by Siobhan McLaughlin. In 2018 the Supreme Court found that the practice of not paying certain bereavement benefits to a long standing unmarried couple to be discriminatory and without justification under the Human Rights Act. It has taken an unnecessary length of time to resolve, nonetheless we welcome that the Government is now belatedly addressing this issue.

We pay tribute to Siobhan McLaughlin whose tenacity has paved the way for a change in the law across the UK”.

ENDS

Further information:

For further information please contact Claire Martin on 07717731873/ 02890 243987 or by email on Claire.martin@nihrc.org

Notes to Editors

1. The NI Human Rights Commission is a statutory public body established in 1999 to promote and protect human rights. In accordance with the Paris Principles the Commission reviews the adequacy and effectiveness of measures undertaken by the UK Government to promote and protect human rights, specifically within Northern Ireland (NI).

2. In the matter of an application by Siobhan McLaughlin for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) [2018] UKSC 48. Read the full judgment here. Read the press summary here.

3. 28 July 2020 Parliamentary statement:

Angela Richardson MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the judgment in relation to (a) R (Jackson and Simpson) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2020] EWHC 183 (Admin) and (b) i n the matter of an application by Siobhan McLaughlin for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland), what progress her Department’s has made on amend her Department’s policies on (i) bereavement support payment and (ii) widowed parents allowance.

Mims Davies MP: It is our intention to take forward a Remedial Order to remove the incompatibilities from the legislation governing Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payment by extending these benefits to cohabitees with children. We intend to lay the Order before the House in due course.


03 Aug 2020

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