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University of Bath

Funeral poverty in the UK: issues for policy

An IPR Policy Brief examining the state support available for those who cannot afford a funeral at the point of need.

This research examined state support for those who cannot afford a funeral at the point of need. It evaluated the DWP Social Fund Funeral Payment through interviews with claimants & key stakeholders. The research concluded that the current system lacks coherence in the process of application, & how it deals with diverse family relationships. For the 55% of claimants who are successful in their application, there can be a substantial shortfall between the contribution awarded & the amount required to meet the cost of a funeral.

These findings have important implications for existing demand for Public Health Funerals. These are basic funerals which local authorities have a statutory obligation to provide. There is concern that local authorities will be required to provide more Public Health Funerals as the number of deaths per year increases. State provision for funerals requires urgent attention to ensure that public resources are appropriately targeted to those most in need.