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What is a pauper’s funeral?

‘Pauper’s Funeral’ is a term that is sometimes used to describe a Public Health Funeral or a Council Funeral; a basic funeral organised by the local authority where relatives are unwilling or unable to pay for the funeral of someone who has passed away, or where no relatives can be traced.

What is a pauper’s funeral?

‘Pauper’s Funeral’ is a term that is sometimes used to describe a Public Health Funeral or a Council Funeral; a basic funeral organised by the local authority where relatives are unwilling or unable to pay for the funeral of someone who has passed away, or where no relatives can be traced.

Who can have a Public Health Funeral?

Sometimes, people pass on with no relatives or friends left behind. In other cases, the family may unfortunately be unable or unwilling to cover the cost of a funeral. In these circumstances, a Public Health Funeral will provide the deceased with a respectable, simple funeral.

Only the council can take responsibility for arranging a pauper's funeral, so if a member of the public begins to make arrangements with a Funeral Director, the financial responsibility is left with that individual.

Because this option is supposed to be a last resort when there is no other alternative, there can be no contributions or part funding from the bereaved.

 

Do the council have to help with funeral costs?

Under Section 46 of the Public Health Act 1984, it is the council’s responsibility to arrange a cremation or burial for someone who has died within their boundary, if relatives cannot be traced or are unable or unwilling to pay funeral expenses.

The law states that if someone left a will, it is the duty of the person appointed executor to arrange a funeral and cover the funeral costs if the deceased did not leave enough to cover the expense of their funeral.

However, if the authorities are satisfied that the family does not have the funds available to cover the cost of a funeral themselves and the family can provide a written statement rejecting responsibility, the council will cover the funeral costs and take care of the arrangements.

The local council will have three years to recover some or all of the cost of the funeral from the deceased’s estate. The estate includes any money (including savings) or properties they may have owned but does not include a house left to their surviving spouse.

 

What happens at a pauper's funeral?

The council will appoint a Funeral Director to carry out a simple, low cost funeral. In most cases, it will take place at a crematorium unless there is evidence of the deceased wishes for a burial.

The Funeral Director will be responsible for selecting a time and date for the funeral. The family will have very little control over funeral arrangements.

A Public Health Funeral will often only cover the necessary elements of a cremation which will include a basic coffin and transportation to the crematorium (or cemetery) for the deceased. It is unlikely flowers, viewing of the deceased, obituaries or transport for the family will be provided. Family and friends can normally attend a pauper’s funeral, although there will only be a short service.

Every local council will have its own policy on public health funerals, so specific details such as the services provided will differ between authorities.


How else can I get help with funeral costs?

There are various government schemes in place that can help with funeral costs. People who are entitled to certain benefits may be granted a Funeral Expenses Payment (also referred to as a Funeral Payment) from the government. This will help pay for:

  • Burial or cremation fees
  • A doctor's certificate
  • £700 towards other funeral expenses including Funeral Director fees, flowers or the coffin
  • Travel arrangements and the cost of moving the deceased

 

There are certain criteria you must meet to be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment. How much you will get will depend on your circumstances but it is unlikely that the payment will cover the full cost of a funeral.  

You may also be entitled to a Bereavement Support Payment.

 

A low cost funeral can help reduce funeral costs

Simplicity Cremations can offer a direct cremation from just £995, and attended funerals from £1,395, significantly lower than the cost of a traditional funeral which can average around £4,200* in the UK.

Where cost is a particular issue for the family, our direct cremation service would be most suited. Our professional team can collect your loved one, before carrying out a low cost, simple funeral without any mourners present.

If you were not close with the departed, then a direct cremation can allow your loved one a dignified yet affordable funeral with much lower expenses than the ones you may incur with a full funeral service arranged by a Funeral Director. Alternatively you may wish to arrange a memorial at a later date, away from the crematorium at a time and location to suit you.

Following the direct cremation, the ashes will be respectfully scattered in our garden of remembrance or returned to you on request.

A direct cremation means that costs such as a limousine, hearse, flowers and headstone are removed.

By choosing Simplicity Cremations, you can rest assured that your loved one is being tended to with the utmost care by our professional, respectful team.


How planning a funeral in advance can help

A prepaid funeral plan can be set up in order to pay for a funeral in advance. The price of the funeral will be frozen at today’s price, whilst you pay for your funeral in a series of instalments. You may also pay in a lump sum if you prefer. This can save loved ones from the financial strain of organising a funeral in the future.

To find out more about our simple, low cost funeral services, please call us today on 0800 484 0260.

 

*Sun Life Cost of Dying Report 2018 quoted £4271 as the average cost of a basic funeral in the UK.