UK Urged to Follow Scotland’s Lead on Funeral Poverty and Debt

April 1, 2016

The UK government has been urged by a group of politicians to follow Scotland’s lead and carry out a thorough investigation into the issues around funeral poverty and the debt problems they can cause low-income households.

The rising costs associated with funerals, along with a relative lack of state support in these contexts, is understood to be forcing families across England and Wales into debt problems with increasing regularity.

A new report compiled by the Work and Pensions Select Committee in Westminster has outlined the key issues and called for action to keep funeral-related costs from rising further.

The report claims that state grants issued in relation to funeral costs to low-income families in England and Wales are insufficient to cover even the very basic costs of a modest funeral.

The result of which is believed to be that a growing number of families are being left in the difficult position of having to take on sizable debts in order to cover the costs of funeral care for their loved ones.

“Funeral payments for those who can prove they are entitled – and that is a very uncertain and onerous process – now fall far short of covering even a basic funeral,” said Frank Field, chair of the select committee publishing the report.

“We heard clear evidence of the distressing circumstances and debt this is leading people into, at a time when they are grieving and vulnerable. We do not want a return to the spectre of miserable ‘pauper’s funerals’.”

A review of similar subject matter in Scotland saw the government’s approach to providing financial assistance to families in relation to burials, cremations and funerals overhauled.

The average cost of a funeral in the UK is understood to be just over £3,700, with a BBC investigation last year having discovered that the number of Public Health Act funerals being carried out nationwide each year has risen by 11 per cent since the beginning of the decade.

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