FUNERAL POVERTY DEBATE IN HOUSE OF COMMONS.
The funeral poverty debate raises many questions, and we present a useful solution for many families below.
These initial comments are from the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors. Afterwards, we present at least a partial solution. “MP for Belfast East Gavin Robinson tabled a debate on 14th September 2016 in the House of Commons that addressed concerns around funeral poverty. In particular, he raised the current consultation by the Department for Work and Pensions on the Social Fund and the support available to low income families having to pay for funerals.
In response to the debate, Terry Tennens, Chief Executive of SAIF, said: “It was a very thoughtful and passionate discussion. I would like to thank Gavin Robinson for highlighting what is an incredibly important issue. Although burial and cremation costs continue to be met in full, there is no doubt that the £700 Social Fund payment for ‘non-discretionary’ third party items urgently needs reform. The figure has not increased since 2003. It is nowhere near enough to cover what many people would consider to be basic requirements – such as hiring a place of worship or the provision of an official to oversee the ceremony.
“Whilst the vast majority of SAIF members have only increased their prices in line with inflation, third party costs have risen significantly. This is putting enormous strain on families at an incredibly difficult time. The average £1,347 payment from the Social Fund, which includes the cost of burial or cremation, leaves a 62% deficit. The average cost of a funeral in the UK now at £3,700.”
Stephen Pett, of the Prepaid Funeral Review team said “The importance of planning ahead is only emphasised by the appalling lack of benefits for the less well off. We are actively recommending that families pool funds to get a Family Funeral Plan. These can be used by the first member of the family to die. Clearly, they need to add extra plans as soon as they can
afford to do so. It is just the same process is that employed by the Roman Legions a couple of thousand years ago. We believe that the majority of families can – between them – scrape together £20 or £30 a month. That makes a good start.”