Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Centre for Death & Society present to Parliamentary roundtable on funeral cost assistance for the vulnerable

Wed Nov 28 11:38:00 GMT 2012

End of life experts from across the UK will come together today for a parliamentary roundtable chaired by Joan Walley, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North. The roundtable will consider whether the government’s Funeral Payment is fit to meet demand, and the impact this may have on other forms of support for people on low incomes, such as Public Health Funerals.

Dr Kate Woodthorpe (Centre for Death & Society at the University of Bath) and Simon Cox (Head of End of Life Planning at Sun Life Direct), authors of the Cost of Dying Special Report into Social Fund Funeral Payments , will outline key findings and recommendations from their report to attendees. They will focus on the emotional and financial distress vulnerable families suffer when looking for support with funeral costs.

Dr Kate Woodthorpe said: "By combining robust research with open discussion in a multi-discipline environment, we hope to address some of the key findings of the report, which highlight the complexity of a system that neither recognises the importance of timing or the realities of today’s family structures."

Joan Walley MP comments: "With almost half of the 69,000 claims for a funeral payment rejected, some claimants are condemned to debt by committing to funeral costs before finding out if they will receive support from the state.

"Bringing together interested parties to discuss the issues highlighted in the report will help us better understand the experience claimants face and what steps can be taken to ensure better outcomes not just for consumers, for funeral directors, local authorities and the public purse."

Also attending the roundtable will be Teresa Perchard, Director of Policy, Citizens Advice Bureau.

Further information

Dr Woodthorpe will be appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed at 16:00 on Wednesday 28 November to discuss these issues.