What Help Is Available with Funeral Costs for Low Income Families?

The average cost was nearly £3,800 in 2017 – not counting extras that can add another £2,000 to the total bill. Affordability and debt can therefore be a real concern.

A coffin in a hearse

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is due to report in a few weeks’ time on whether the information provided by funeral directors on prices and services is clear enough for people to be able to choose the best option for them. It will also look at how prices have changed over time and the factors that affect them.

Funeral Expenses Payment

The CMA has already acknowledged those on the lowest incomes can face spending in the region of a third of their annual income covering the cost of a funeral. For those people some Government help may be available via a Funeral Expenses Payment (also known as a Funeral Payment).

The payment is available to those on certain benefits or tax credits and can help to pay for some of the costs of:

  • Burial fees for a particular plot
  • Cremation fees, including the cost of the doctor’s certificate
  • Travel to arrange or go to the funeral
  • The cost of moving the body within the UK, if it’s being moved more than 50 miles
  • Death certificates or other documents
  • You can also get up to £700 for any other funeral expenses, such as funeral director’s fees, flowers or the coffin

It is important to let the funeral directors know as soon as possible if you are planning to use a Funeral Expenses Payment. The payment may be paid directly to them. Be aware it will not cover all costs and where there are choices to make, between cemeteries for example, it is likely only to cover the cost of the fees for the least expensive option, even if you choose to use a different one.

Carrying a coffin at a funeral

If you receive money from the deceased’s estate the Funeral Expenses Payment will be deducted from it.

Funeral Payment Eligibility

To meet eligibility requirements for the payment, as well as being in receipt of certain benefits or tax credits, you must meet certain relationship requirements with the deceased.

You must either be the partner of the deceased when they died or a close relative or friend, the parent of a baby stillborn after 24 weeks or the parent of a child.

It is also possible to make a claim for the payment after you’ve already paid for the funeral. You must apply within six months of the funeral, even if you are waiting for a decision on a qualifying benefit.

To make a claim before the funeral, you’ll need an invoice from the funeral director – an estimate is not enough.

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