Many too poor to bury their family
Financially pressed families cannot afford to bury loved ones, and often taxpayers have to foot the bill, a new report has found.
Research by the Local Government Association (LGA) found that councils across England and Wales funded almost 3,000 funerals last year, largely because families could not afford burial costs.
Under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, when someone dies outside of a hospital and there is no next of kin or anyone else to foot the bill, the funeral arrangements and costs fall on councils.
The report said 52% of councils reported increases in numbers of families claiming not to have enough money to pay for funerals.
Councils spent £2,110,000 on funerals, with the average cost per funeral being £950. Most of the councils involved in the study blamed the Government's "outdated" and "confusing" funeral payments service for letting families down.
Councillor David Rogers, chairman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said the Government's complex 25-page form stopped families from claiming grants. He said the process was slow and often failed families burdened with having to pay costs up-front.
"The last thing a grieving relative needs is extra stress over whether they're going to be able to pay for and organise the funeral of their loved one," Mr Rogers said.
"There is a specific grant available to alleviate that situation, but it's so outdated, complex and confusing that it often prevents people getting the support they're entitled to."
Mr Rogers said the funeral payment covered burial or cremation costs but only provided up to £700 for other expenses, including funeral director costs.
He said this had not been updated since 2003.