Government help with funeral costs
Funerals can be very expensive, with the average funeral in the UK costing £4,417*. Even though it is possible to reduce funeral costs, you might still need help paying for a funeral for a loved one.
If you live in England and Wales and are on a low income, you could be eligible for government help with funeral costs, such as the Funeral Expenses Payment (also referred to as Funeral Payment). In Scotland, this is called Funeral Support Payment.
What is the Funeral Expenses Payment?
A government funeral payment is an amount from the government to help towards funeral costs for those on a low income or those receiving certain benefits. If you need help paying for a funeral, it's worth checking your eligibility for the Funeral Expenses Payment.
Who qualifies for the Funeral Expenses Payment?
In order to qualify for the Funeral Expenses Payment, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria:
- You must be responsible for arranging the funeral
- Receive certain benefits or tax credits
- Meet the rules on your relationship with the deceased
- Arrange a funeral in the UK, the European Economic Area or Switzerland
If you do receive money from the deceased estate, your Government Funeral Payment will be deducted from this. The estate includes any money or property they had but does not include a house or personal things left to their widow, widower or surviving civil partner.
If there’s a close relative of the deceased who isn’t getting one of the qualifying benefits you may not be able to claim Funeral Payment.
What you'll get
Exactly how much you get will depend on your circumstances, including any other money that is available to cover costs (such as insurance policies or money from the deceased’s estate). It is unlikely the Funeral Expenses Payment will cover all the costs of the funeral.
A Funeral Payment will help to cover some of the costs of a basic funeral including:
- Burial fees for a particular plot
- Cremation fees (including the cost of a doctor's certificate required for cremation)
- Travel to arrange or attend the funeral
- The cost of moving the body within the UK (if it's being moved more than 50 miles)
- Death certificate and any other legal documents required
You can also get money for other funeral expenses such as funeral director’s fees, flowers or a coffin. You can get up to:
- £700 if the person died before 8th April 2020
- £1,000 if the person died after 8th April 2020
If the deceased had a prepaid funeral plan, you can only get up to £120 to help pay for items not included in their plan.
How to make a claim
You can claim by calling the Bereavement Service Helpline on 0800 731 0469 or downloading a Funeral Expenses Payment claim form, and sending the completed form by post.
You must apply for the Government Funeral Payment within six months of the date of the funeral. You can also make a claim before the funeral if you have an invoice or signed contract from the Funeral Director, however you cannot claim beforehand if you have only been given an estimate of costs.
How the money is paid
If the Funeral Director has not been paid for the services they have provided, the money is paid directly to them.
If you have already paid for the funeral, the Funeral Expenses Payment will be paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.
To find out more information about government help with funeral costs or to and make a claim visit Gov.uk.
Funeral Payment Support in Scotland
In Scotland, the Funeral Expenses Payment has been replaced by Funeral Support Payment. Funeral Support Payment is a one-off payment from Social Security Scotland which helps cover the cost of a funeral. It will not cover the full funeral cost but it should help pay for some of the expenses.
To be eligible for Funeral Support Payment you must be:
- Living in Scotland (the person who died may have lived anywhere in the UK)
- Paying for a funeral (either yours or your partner’s name is on the bill)
- Responsible for paying for the funeral (the closest relative to the deceased)
- Getting certain benefits or tax credits
- Within the time limit – you can apply from the death, up to 6 months after the funeral
You can apply online for Funeral Support Payment - most people take around 25-35 minutes to complete the application form. Alternatively, you can apply by phone on 0800 182 2222 or by post. For more information on eligibility criteria and how to apply, check the mygov.scot website.
Taking steps to reduce funeral costs
If you do not qualify for government help with funeral costs, you can take steps to reduce the cost of the funeral to ensure it’s more manageable for you.
At Simplicity, we provide simple funerals which cover all of the essential elements of a cremation, without the obligation to pay for traditional ceremonial elements you may feel are unnecessary - allowing you to reduce funeral costs by up to 77% vs the average basic funeral*.
Our services are available throughout all of mainland Great Britain, from just £995. See our arranging a funeral guide for more information.
For help arranging a funeral, contact us today. Our phone lines are open 24/7.
* The average cost of a basic funeral in the UK is currently £4,417, SunLife (2020), Cost of Dying Report, sunlife.co.uk/costofdying2020