Charles Cowling

 

Public health, council or (a new term to us) public funerals are on the rise in Burnley Lancashire, a once-thriving mill town from which manufacturing has ebbed, leaving a generally impecunious population — but a halfway decent football team. A report in the Lancashire Telegraph tells us:

In 2007 Burnley Council paid for three public funerals at a cost of £9,000, of which £7,000 was recovered through the deceased’s estate. But in recent years that number has risen by up to 400 per cent, with 13 public funerals in 2010, at a cost of £16,000, of which only £4,800 was recovered. There were nine public funerals in 2011 and there have been seven so far in 2012.

Jill Wolfendale, the council’s principal environmental health officer, says: 

“In the last three years there seems to be an increase in those public funerals where there are relatives but they are unwilling or unable to make the funeral arrangements. Council staff make every effort to point out to family or friends who may want to make arrangements but have concerns or difficulties meeting the costs that they may be entitled to claim a grant to help towards costs. However, in recent years relatives are increasingly unable or unwilling to do this as generally they still have to provide up front deposits to funeral directors.”

Clearly the dysfunctional Social Fund Funeral Payment has a lot to answer for here. What is curious is the rising number of people who are unwilling to assume responsibility for burying or cremating their own. Is there a social trend emerging? 

Full report here.

15
Leave a Reply

avatar
7 Comment threads
8 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
Charles CowlingDave LucasNick GandonJohn PidgeonDavid Holmes Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest most voted
John Pidgeon
Guest
John Pidgeon

Couple of things here that I find odd. £3000 for a Council Funeral, seems VERY expensive, particularly considering that many funeral directors in that area have a less expensive basic option available. Certainly in Cardiff a basic service can be provided at much lower costs. The State Funded Funeral is a bit of a nightmare, the DSS rules only allow a relatively small sum in payment towards the Funeral Directors charges £700 and that must include the cost of the officiant, the anomaly here is that they (DSS) will pay almost ANY sum towards the Council Fee for burial or… Read more »

Nick Gandon
Guest
Nick Gandon

Well said that man!

David Holmes
Guest

Tories are around every corner Charles.. And to be fair, this problem existed before the coalition. It shames us all that the least well off in society are being forced to abandon their loved ones to the state because they cannot afford to bury or cremate them. Having said that, more often than not, the same people who can’t pay do seem to find substantial sums for flowers. This is a little irksome. I realise I’m in a minority – but so far, have yet to turn anyone away, however skint they claim to be. I feel pride plays a… Read more »

Nick Gandon
Guest
Nick Gandon

Thanks for the “plug” Andrew. I guess it’s starting to become a bit of a hot potato for both councils and hospitals. From the figures claimed in the newspaper quoted, the cost to that particular council has dropped from £3000 to £1230 per public funeral in a year. It’s still a fairly high figure, but traditionally, many funeral directors have tendered their fees at lower than cost. The times however, they are a changing. Most councils are having to “wise-up” with their cheque books, and most FDs can’t be as generous as they may have been in the past. Oh… Read more »

David Holmes
Guest

It doesn’t surprise me. I recently had someone sell his car to help pay the costs. I found it upsetting.

Today on BBC Radio Solent I heard a family complain that their mother had ‘paid’ the Co-op £750 twenty years ago ‘for her funeral.’ When she passed away recently, the Co-op informed her that the sum paid all those years ago was now worth.. £750. Might be worth looking in to Charles?

This wouldn’t pay the crematorium fee in some areas these days.

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Hi David

that sounds pretty poor to say the least, this relates to our friends (sic) whose internal departmental name is ‘End of LIfe Services’ no doubt or big brother F’care

and yes, it sounds as though there’s scope here for looking into exactly what has gone on……………………………………

and yes, David, cremation fees have notw reached (imo) unacceptable levels

regards

andrew

Dave Lucas
Guest
Dave Lucas

As with so many stories in the media – you have to look at both sides, so perhaps someone should ask Funeralcare. I think the co-op used to run a scheme that if someone paid £500 TOWARDS their funeral, it was imediately topped up to £750 but these were not prepayment plans and were not ever full payment for the funeral. No idea if this was the posiiton in this case, but the numbers do match up.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Steady on, Andrew! For one thing, if you’re that skint that you can’t cough up three grand from thin air, you can’t and that’s that. Nobody who wants it back is going to lend it to you, and you couldn’t pay it back if they did. I’ve been in that situation plenty of times (though fortunately not with the monstrous burden of funeral costs on top of a bereavement). But aside from that, why shouldn’t someone who is poor be allowed to hold a funeral, even at public expense? If the likes of Alan Sugar can have a bus pass… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

thx Jonathan

errr, I wasn’t exactly ‘going over the top’ ………………but I do feel that financial reality has to be accepted…………………

regards

andrew

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

interesting stuff, although sad nevertheless

as has been said, it’s one thing for a Council to step in when there are absolutely no relatives but completely another when there are and they are very unwilling

surely in both cases, it should be ‘direct cremation only’ (and Nick Gandon isn’t that far away, in distance terms) and in the case of where there are relatives, then they will, I’m afraid, just have to accept it

andrew

Jenny Uzzell
Guest

At least one of the reasons for this is the large (and increasing) discrepency between the grant available to the family and the cost of the funeral. The most that can be claimed through the DWP is about £1,400. If you have no money, it doesn’t matter if you are expected to find £8,000 or £800…you’re still stuck!