For those on benefits there are schemes available to help with funeral costs. One such fund is the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Funeral scheme which provides people who are on qualifying benefits with help towards the payment of cremation or burial fees. In addition it allows up to £700 for other items such as the coffin and the purchasing of flowers.

If people wish to make a claim to the scheme, they need to do so within six months of the date the funeral took place. Any supporting evidence for the application can be submitted electronically. This is a change in the length of time available to apply for help to cover the cost, as well as an additional method of providing documents.

The recent changes, which will come into effect in April this year have been met with a mixed response from industry figures. For example Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert at Royal London, states: “It’s good to see small changes being made to the funeral payment process, but the Government has ignored the biggest issue. 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 Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment.

Joseph C Roberts are an independent family funeral director based in Harrogate. We serve the whole of West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire and help families with every step of the funeral planning process. Our qualified staff are available to discuss arrangements 24 hours a day. For more information please call 01423 887824.

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