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.