Funeral hardship fund may be created to tackle bereavement poverty

York Cemetery. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

A funeral hardship fund – to help families struggling to pay for the burial or cremation of a loved one – could be launched by City of York Council.

Councillor and funeral director Martin Rowley said grieving people can face huge bills – including £12 for a single death certificate, when they may need to buy up to six.

He said other costs include a form that must be signed by two doctors for cremation to go ahead – costing £164, fees for a vicar or non-religious celebrant to lead the service – costing up to £215, as well as flowers and vehicles.

The cremation fees also cost £895 but will rise to £925 in April under the council’s budget.

Cllr Rowley said:

  • I sit with bereaved families day in and day out.

    None of the [political] groups have looked at funeral poverty – can I just implore the executive to look at creating a funeral hardship fund within the council, that bereaved families who need it can go to.

    If a family really struggles with funeral poverty, within the industry we are doing everything we can to reduce our costs.

Paupers’ funerals

Martin Rowley

He said people on certain benefits can seek some help from government – but are often left to make up the rest of the costs.

And that paupers’ funerals are available through the council – but families place the control of the funeral in the hands of the bereavement services manager and the council then has a charge over any goods and belongings the deceased has.

He said: “Nobody really wants this kind of funeral for their loved ones, but sometimes there is no choice.”

Council leader Keith Aspden supported the creation of a funeral hardship fund.

He said: “I’m sure that is something that the scrutiny committees would look at. It sounds like a really good suggestion to me to look at in the future and I suspect would address these issues in a far more effective way.”