You are here: Home - Household Bills - News -

Government confirms raft of changes to Funeral Payments

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The government has announced a number of changes to the funeral payments system, which will take effect next year.

Funeral Payments are available to people who receive certain income-related benefits to help pay for a simple funeral of an immediate friend or relative. It allows them to receive up to £700 for funeral expenses, such as funeral director’s fees, the coffin, flowers and travel.

However critics argued that these payments have failed to keep up with the increasing cost of funerals and concerns have been raised over a lack of clarity on eligibility criteria.

The government launched a consultation on Funeral Payments this summer and it has now revealed a number of changes to the system, including:

  • Allowing Funeral Payment recipients to receive contributions from relatives, friends or charities without it being deducted from the payment
  • Extending the claim period from three to six months from the date of the funeral
  • Evidence to be submitted electronically to speed up the claim process
  • Introducing a shorter application form for children’s funerals.

Minister for family support, housing and child maintenance, Caroline Dinenage, said: “Losing a loved one is a sad and difficult time and we want to make the process of claiming a funeral payment as simple as possible.”

However, while Royal London said this is a step in the right direction, the government should have gone one step further to increase the payment amount to offset the rising cost of funerals.

Its National Funeral Cost Index 2017 found that funeral poverty has reached an all-time high of £160m with those struggling to pay funeral costs taking on an average debt of £1,680.

Further, the average cost of a funeral in the UK rose 3% from 2016 to £3,784, and the gap between the amount received from the government and the average funeral cost continues to widen, with bereaved people facing a £2,355 shortfall.

Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert at Royal London, said: “Funeral costs continue to increase above inflation year-on-year, with our research showing that bereaved families who qualify for the fund face a shortfall of more than £2,000 to cover the cost of a funeral.

“While these reforms are a step in the right direction, they fail to address the value of the award and we want the government to go further and commit to increasing the value of the social fund funeral expenses payment.”

The government hopes to bring in the new regulations from spring 2018.

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

Everything you need to know about being furloughed

Few people had heard of ‘furlough’ before March 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic thrust the idea of bein...

The savings accounts paying the most interest

If one of your jobs this month is to get your finances in order, moving your savings to a higher paying deal i...

Coronavirus and your finances: what help can you get in the second lockdown?

News and updates on everything to do with coronavirus and your personal finances.

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

Having a baby and your finances: seven top tips

We’re guessing the Duchess of Cambridge won’t be fretting about maternity pay or whether she’ll still be...

Protecting family wealth: 10 tips for cutting inheritance tax

Inheritance tax - sometimes known as 'death tax' - can cause even more heartache for bereaved families. But th...

Travel insurance: Five tips to ensure a successful claim

Ahead of your summer holiday, it’s important to make sure you have the right level of travel cover or you co...

Money Tips of the Week

Read previous post:
Government makes pledge on consumer rights post-Brexit

The government has affirmed its commitment to maintaining high standards of consumer protection post-Brexit, ‘delivering the stability and continuity consumers...