Will the government pay for my funeral?


Dec 4, 2015
Will the government pay for my funeral?

The simple answer I’m afraid is probably not. 

 

Yes, there is a state funded Social Fund Funeral Payment system in place but it hasn't been updated for many years. So in addition to being extremely difficult to get your hands on, the average payout is only £1,318; compared to the average cost of a funeral today at £3,702 as reported by the Royal London National Cost Index 2015, it really is woefully short. 

This average cost of a funeral is of course based on a typical traditional funeral, so you could strip out a lot of costs and services and opt for a more basic cremation, but even then you are looking at around £2,000 and this option will not appeal to most people as a way of saying goodbye to loved ones. 

The Social Fund Funeral Payment is controlled by local councils who have strict rules on qualification, so as I mentioned, the money is only available to a small proportion of the population. Typically you will need to be on state benefits with no family that can afford to pay or contribute to the funeral. 

So it's not surprising to learn that 1 in 10 funerals leave families with an average debt of £1,375. 

The BBC this week has been running a series of news items on its BBC Breakfast Show highlighting the so called paupers funerals.   

Whilst there are ways to plan ahead to pay for funerals either with a prepaid funeral plan or life insurance, it's often those on the lowest incomes that either have no way of paying for these schemes or indeed are unaware of the options available to them. 

Better news could be on the horizon in 2017 when a governmental review is scheduled to take place on the current Social Fund Funeral Payment and the new Bereavement Support Payment will be introduced. 

The UK has an ageing population, so the harsh reality is that the number of people struggling to pay for their loved ones funerals will just continue to grow, increasing the financial burden on families and also local councils who fund "paupers funerals". 

So as you can see, the state is highly unlikely to pay for your funeral. 

At Over50choices we have long campaigned for better awareness and education of funeral costs and whilst the current social funeral payment scheme will be reviewed for those on state benefits, there is also another job to be done in increasing people’s awareness of their funeral planning options and the burden that can be removed with a bit of forward planning. 

From £4 a month, Sun Life for many years has offered its Over 50 Life Insurance plan which provides a cash sum on death that can help with funeral costs, which may be a more affordable option for some. 

Prepaid funeral plans start from around £20 a month and differ from life insurance in that you are pre-purchasing your funeral services at today's prices, taking care of the arrangements and saving your family some of the emotional stress. 

For those thinking about buying a funeral plan outright or with monthly instalment payments, basically the younger you start your plan the more you could save your loved ones when the time comes. 

For those on state benefits the government review can’t come soon enough, as the current scheme is leaving thousands of people in needless debt.


Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

ashley shepherd

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