When Laura Williams lost her husband, her daughter was five her twin boys just two.

Had he died a year earlier, her three young children would have received help from the state until they left school. 

But because he passed away in 2018, shortly after the UK Government replaced the Widowed Parent's Allowance with the Bereavement Support Payment, the benefits lasted just 18 months. 

“You're dealing with the devastation of a loss like that and wondering how on earth you're going to survive it, " the clinical psychologist from Livingston tells the Herald on Sunday.

"But quite quickly your thoughts turn to finances and how you're going to support your children.”

After her husband's death, she took about six months off from her job with the NHS, and when she returned, she had to take on a part-time role closer to home. 

"Ultimately, I was in a position where childcare became a problem because, of course, you don't have your spouse around to support that. 

“So you know, it just feels like it's a bit of a double dunt financially because not only have I lost an entire salary, I've also lost some of my own salary and freedom. 

“And at the same time as all of that you're supporting very young children to grieve while grieving yourself.”

“The whole system is just woefully inadequate for what people need,” she adds. 

Her situation is not unusual. A recent petition to the House of Commons calling for the government to look at the support has been signed by more than 11,700 people.

With the Bereavement Support Payment, you get a lump sum payment of £3,500 and monthly payments of £350 for each child for a year and a half. 

Under the Widowed Parent's Allowance, a payment of up to £139 would be made weekly until your child finishes their education.

The change was brought in by the coalition government during the austerity years.

It was, in part, to simplify the process, replacing three existing bereavement benefits with the single Bereavement Support Payment.  

But for some families, the difference between the two is in the tens of thousands of pounds. 

There are increasing calls for the UK Government to look again at how long it offers the bereaved help. 

Laura’s MP, the SNP’s Hannah Bardell, raised her case with Rishi Sunak last week during Prime Minister’s Questions. 

She asked the Conservative leader if he would meet with the two of them to “see what can be done for those who, like her, are bereaved with young children to support?” 

The Prime Minister didn’t attempt to defend the current system, saying simply he would be “very happy to meet her at the earliest opportunity.”

The answer left both Laura and the politician cautiously optimistic that Mr Sunak will listen to their arguments.

There are elements of the new benefit that are more generous than its predecessor.

Crucially, unlike the previous system, remarriage or re-partnering does not disqualify someone from receiving a payment. 

But it’s not just the time bar, that is less generous. The benefit is not uprated annually in line with inflation in the way that other benefits are, which is why it has not changed in nearly seven years. 

However, there have been some changes. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that it was wrong for the government to exclude unmarried partners, saying it was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The law was changed last year and the DWP opened a 12-month window for bereaved partners to make a backdated claim for the payment.

That window closes next on 8 February. 

According to the Widowed and Young charity, around 21,000 families could be eligible. Some could be due payments in the thousands. 

Laura is currently working on a book, part memoir, part self-help teaching guide, due out next year. Her podcast and busy Instagram page gives her a profile, which she is keen to use.

"I've got by," the psychologist says. "And, you know, in many ways, like we can still afford holidays, mostly in this country. We have to cut our cloth accordingly.

"And this benefit, had it been how it was previously would have made a massive difference to us. A massive difference.

"And if it would make a massive difference to us, I cannot imagine the families who are perhaps in the situation where the second spouse doesn't have a job and were looking after children as their core role."

Ms Bardell said: "I was pleasantly surprised that the Prime Minister agreed to a meeting but I'm sure he, like the many people who've been in touch with myself and Dr. Laura since I asked the question, will realise the magnitude of the issue and hopefully understands how devastating the loss of a partner or husband or wife can be."

The MP said the answer suggested Mr Sunak was "open to looking at changes and possibly reverting back to the allowance as it was before."

She added: "There are many, many people the length and breadth of the UK who have missed out and have lost significant sums of money.

"No money can ever compensate the loss of a parent or a partner, but we do hope that in meeting with the Prime Minister and continuing to raise this that we might be able to get some changes so that particularly children who lose a parent are able to get a bit of extra support."