Over half a million funerals take place in the UK every year. When you consider that one in six individuals and families have no savings and no access to normal credit facilities, you can understand how some resort to pay-day loans or simply ‘throw themselves on the town hall steps’, with no choice but to walk away forcing the council or hospital to arrange an ‘environmental health funeral’ – what used to be termed a ‘pauper’s funeral’ in times gone by. Most authorities admit that these requests are increasing. If a cremation, some councils will not let the family have the ashes. If buried the person may well be interred in a plot with other people and a grave stone may not be permitted .
The price of funerals is often in the news, especially with the costs of ‘budget’ or so called ‘fair funerals’ still coming in at a shocking and worrying £3000.
Help with funeral costs
There is some help available to those on certain ‘qualifying benefits’. However, only around 50% of applications are successful and receipt of the monies can be delayed, often, until weeks after the funeral, resulting in families still needing a loan. Who generally is seeking help with the cost of a funeral:
- The elderly with no savings.
- People on a low wage and without savings, whose only family may live abroad in poorer countries.
- Students or young adults with no savings who inadvertently find themselves taking responsibility for a relative who has died penniless.
None of these groups can claim help from the DWP social fund. The solution for many is to carry out a direct funeral which can cost around £1000 all inclusive via a direct cremation specialist. An alternative option would be for families and friends to arrange a DIY funeral.
If being buried is important, a direct burial it is now possible. This can cost less than £2000 for an all inclusive service; one third of the usual cost – depending on which cemetery is chosen.
The main problem
Information about these alternatives is not readily available and many people still believe it is the law to use a funeral director. Many funeral directors will not tell families about alternative options even when relatives express financial hardship.
Who may get help with the cost of a funeral
- The spouse of someone who dies whilst in work and paying NICs may receive a one off payment of £2000.
- Some employers have a death in service package, these pay out varying amounts.
- Some professions and companies have benevolent funds that can help with hardship.
- Those with certain life insurance policies.