Poorest people ‘cannot afford costs of dying’

The poorest people in society cannot afford to pay the costs of funerals, according to a survey carried out by a team of researchers at the University of Bath. The authors call on the government to review the system of state support for funeral costs.

Key findings

  • The average cost of dying – including funeral, burial or cremation and state administration – now stands at £7,622, having risen by 7.1 per cent in the past year. More than 100,000 people will struggle to pay for a funeral this year.
  • The Social Fund funeral payment is an 'outdated and an overly complicated' system that urgently requires review.
  • Currently, eligible claimants are obliged to commit to paying funeral costs before submitting their claim for a funeral payment. In so doing, they are making poorly informed financial decisions that may result in substantial debt.
  • The claim process is confusing and time-consuming. There are cases of claimants delaying a funeral while waiting to hear the outcome of their claim.
  • Local authority officials are experiencing a small but notable increase in demand for Public Health Funerals, on the grounds that individuals are not prepared to organise or pay for the funeral of a family member.

Source: Kate Woodthorpe (with Hannah Rumble and Christine Valentine), Cost of Dying Special Report: 'Affording a Funeral' - Social Fund Funeral Payments, Centre for Death and Society (University of Bath)
LinksReport | Briefing | Bath University press release | Daily Mail report | Guardian report

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Publication date: 
Jan 20 2014