It would appear that another MP, Emma Lewell-Buck is trying to re-ignite ministers interest in the often forgotten but nonetheless serious issue of funeral poverty; warning that with some families already turning to pay day loans as a way to meet funeral costs, it’s only a matter of time before others start looking at ‘home burials’ as a way of controlling soaring prices.
The subject has been raised on numerous occasions over the past few years however appears to have fallen on deaf ears as the only source of financial support, the governments social fund funeral payment scheme has not been revised since its implementation in 2002.
With the average cost of a funeral more than £3,500 and the social fund funeral payment capped at £700, the few who are entitled to help still face a rather large shortfall, which is the sad reason why some turn to pay day loans.
Getting help from the social fund funeral payment scheme isn’t easy and roughly half of applications are turned down. To claim, you also need a funeral invoice which in effect means you would have to have made arrangements; a real chicken and egg situation.
So I applaud Emma Lewell-Buck for raising her head above the parapet but wonder what it will take for the government to take ownership and realise that there is a very real problem here that seriously needs addressing.
Funeral costs have risen by over 80% over the last 10 years; they could cost as much as £6,800 in just 10 years if prices continue to rise as they have done, so this problem is not going to go away.
Whether it is finding cheaper solutions to saying goodbye to those we care about, building on the direct cremation funeral services currently on offer with some funeral directors; or campaigning to ensure as a nation we are more aware of the cost implications and start planning at a much earlier age, in a similar way to preparing for retirement; things do need to change.
I’m not so sure about being buried in the garden though; just think of the impact on the property market. Would you want to move into a house where 3 generations of the previous occupants have claimed a stake in the garden?
None of us want to think about dying but do you really want to think about your family going through the pain of having to arrange and pay for everything either?
Keep chipping away Ms Lewell-Buck; hopefully for once this taboo subject will not fall on deaf ears.