Looking at the research by the University of Bath and at societies like the Quaker Social Action and Dying Matters, the need to talk about Funeral Poverty is increasing. Its not just talking that is important though, the time for action against this is now.
What is funeral poverty? In 2014 it was estimated that a staggering 100,000 people couldn’t afford to die. I personally think this is a very low figure and does not go into the full story. Many people are struggling to meet the costs of living and do not plan for their own funeral. When someone in the family does pass away, inevitably in these situations, there is no money to pay for a funeral. There are agencies that can help but little is known about them. The one that I have most involvement with is the Department of Works and Pensions. For people that are married and receiving benefits there is the Bereavement Payment (up to £2000). If you are not married or a different relation to the deceased there is Social Fund (cost of burial or cremation and £700 towards funeral costs). In my experience it is the Social fund that has the most applications. The amounts given for both are outdated and can still leave a balance to be paid.
It’s not just the people receiving benefits that struggle financially on a daily basis and when needing to pay for a funeral. The cost of living these days is high and many people do not have savings or a disposable income to hand. It is also these people that I feel need the financial help.
The Quaker Social Action has been a driving force in brining funeral poverty to light. A fair funeral pledge was agreed in order to help people make a decision when it comes to selecting a funeral director. With the pledge, each funeral director is committed to:
- Recognise funerals can be expensive and many people struggle with the cost.
2. Make our most affordable funeral package visible to the public, including third party costs.
3. Charge clear prices for goods and services so people know what they’re buying. Communicate prices in initial conversations and prominently display full price lists.
I am one of the funeral directors that has agreed to the pledge. I always feel that I can do more though, and have ensured my prices are the lowest around but they are set fairly.
Many people have asked me “Why are you so cheap?” The answer to this:
I’m not cheap I’m fair in my pricing and because I can be. I don’t have the big overheads of other companies so why charge the same amount. I understand that people can struggle with costs and that is why I have different funeral “packages” available. From the direct cremation, direct cremation plus service, simple funeral to a bespoke service, still put together with fair prices.
For anyone out there looking for help and signposting for financial help these services may be of some assistance:
- Citizens Advice
- Hospital Bereavement services – should someone pass away in Hospital
- Council Bereavement services – may assist with social funeral
Agencies that may be able to help financially:
- Bereavement Payment – DWP
- Social Fund – DWP
- SSAFA Armed Forces Charity http://www.ssafa.org.uk/check-your-eligibility 0845 241 7141
- Child Funeral Charity http://www.childfuneralcharity.org.uk/apply-for-help.html 01480276088
- British Gas energy trust http://www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk/ 01733 421060
For any further help please call in to us or contact Roseberry Funeral Service on 01642 756324.