The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has this month proposed changes to the Social Fund Funeral Payment. These suggested changes come after a period of consultation about the benefit during the summer, to which the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) and other organisations responded.

Although some of the amendments have been met positively, there is criticism that their changes do not address some of the most serious failings. So whilst doubling the claim period from three to six months, allowing the electronic submission of evidence and reducing the length of the children’s application form have all been welcomed by the NAFD, there are still major concerns about the benefit.

In particular, the NAFD has stated that the DWP has not addressed the issue that the amount of £700 currently being offered is not sufficient to cover the main costs of a funeral. The Association has also highlighted that little has been done to deal with the uncertainty faced by families over whether they will receive an award or not. Issues to do with understanding and checking eligibility have also not been sufficiently tackled.

The NAFD President, Alison Crake, summed up the disappointment over the DWP’s response with: “This announcement by the Government is the equivalent of putting a sticking plaster on a broken bone. The DWP’s proposals, which merely address individual points of friction within the system, do nothing to answer the fundamental failings of a Funeral Expenses Payment scheme which causes heartache for tens of thousands of people every year.”

Joseph C Roberts is an independent family funeral director. We help families in West and North Yorkshire with all parts of the funeral process, providing a high standard of service every step of the way. For more information or to speak to one of our qualified staff, please get in touch on 01423 887824.

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