People across the UK dealing with the difficult situation of the death of a relative will be able to check if they’re eligible for help with funeral costs or for other benefits in just one phone call.
In the past a grieving relative may have had to spend hours on the phone, often having to repeat the same information to different parts of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The new Bereavement Service at the DWP will help bereaved relatives with pensions and benefits advice at a time they need it most.
At the time of death, over 80% of people are on a DWP benefit or pension, and of those, over 60% are in receipt of more than one benefit from the Department.
The Service collects all the information the DWP needs to know about the deceased, carries out a quick eligibility check to find out which benefits the surviving relative may be entitled to and takes claims for Bereavement Benefit and Social Fund Funeral Payments over the telephone.
Pensions Minister Steve Webb said:
We want to cut all unnecessary red tape, and our Bereavement Service will do just that for people at a time of vulnerability and stress. The new service will ease the process of offering information on entitlements for bereaved relatives, minimising burdens at an otherwise difficult time.
The scheme has been trialled from last July, and from today it is available across the whole of the UK. Later in 2011 the service will be linked to Tell Us Once, which enables customers to report a death to several government departments and agencies in one contact.
Under the service, notification of a death can be shared with several local and central government organisations, including DWP, which between them cover 24 different services such as DVLA, the Passport Service and HMRC.
Notes to Editors:
- Besides improving customer service, the Bereavement Service also aims to improve efficiency and reduce the 5 million contacts the DWP received in order to deal with the 500,000 deaths of its customers each year. The service also reduces nugatory claims as it identifies early in the process when customers are not eligible for benefits.
- The Bereavement Service has been operating since July 2010 and the UK wide roll out was completed on 18 March.
- The Tell Us Once service is currently available in 42 Local Authority areas and will start wider rollout from June this year - the programme expects to conclude rollout activity by the end of the year.
- The Bereavement Service numbers are:
- Phone: 0845 606 0265
- Phone: 0845 606 0275 (Welsh)
- Textphone: 0845 606 0285
- Textphone: 0845 606 0295 (Welsh)