Proposed changes to improve funeral payments scheme

The government is proposing changes to the way individuals can claim payments to cover funeral costs for an immediate friend or relative.

The consultation aims to clarify who is eligible and simplify the process of claiming the Funeral Expenses Payment.

The following proposals are being considered:

  • allowing recipients of the scheme to receive contributions from relatives, friends or charities
  • exceptions for people living in care homes
  • extending the claim period from 3 to 6 months
  • clarifying exclusive rights for burial.

Individuals in receipt of benefits, such as income support, universal credit and working tax credits, may be eligible for the funding.

Funeral Expense Payments can help cover:

  • burial fees
  • medical certification fees needed for cremations
  • costs to arrange or travel to the funeral or transport the body more than 50 miles
  • death certificates or other documents
  • up to £700 towards funeral expenses, such as funeral director’s fees and coffin.

Caroline Dinenage, family support, housing and child maintenance minister, said:

“We understand what a distressing and difficult time it can be losing a loved one and we want to make the process of claiming a funeral payment as simple as possible.”

Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral expert at Royal London, added:

“Our research shows people are taking on an average debt of around £1,600 to pay for funeral expenses, so while the consultation is a step in the right direction; it fails to address the value of the award, which falls short of covering funeral costs. 

“The decline in the number of successful funeral payment applications is also a concern, which the consultation doesn’t address. We want the Government to go further and commit to increasing the value of the social fund funeral expenses payment and tackling funeral poverty.”

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