Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck has highlighted the impact of funeral poverty in the UK, calling on the Government to improve help for bereaved families.
In a House of Commons debate last week the South Shields MP said that there has been a staggering 400% increase in the number of people crowdfunding funeral costs on website JustGiving. Bereaved families use crowdfunding websites like JustGiving to ask friends, acquaintances and strangers for donations towards funeral expenses.
Speaking to fellow MPs in the House of Commons Ms Lewell-Buck said, “Around a quarter of families that cannot afford funerals borrow from friends or relatives, a quarter put costs on a credit card, and the rest take out loans or work out an instalment plan with funeral directors. Some even sell their belongings.
Emma Lewell-Buck speaking in Westminster Hall
“It has been revealed recently that people are increasingly turning to crowdfunding websites to raise money for funerals, with JustGiving showing a 400% increase in people asking for money from friends, families and strangers to fund funerals for their loved ones. I cannot imagine having to seek support from strangers on a faceless website to pay for a loved one’s funeral.”
Help is “wholly inadequate”
According to Ms Lewell-Buck, the average cost of a funeral has more than doubled in the past 10 years, coming to just over £4,000. While the Government does offer the Social Fund Funeral Payment to help with funeral costs, Ms Lewell-Buck called the Payment “wholly inadequate”.
Writing for Politics Home, she said, “Not only is the process complex and confusing, the average pay out is a paltry £1,427 and only accessible once funeral costs have been committed to.
“With almost 17,000 applications in the last year alone being refused it is easy to calculate that year on year there are thousands of people falling into funeral debt.”
A recent study found that funeral debt is at an all-time high, with one in 10 people struggling to cover a loved one’s funeral costs. The average amount of debt taken on to pay for a funeral is £1,744.
Help with funeral costs
With the average cost of a funeral rising year on year, more and more families need help covering the cost of their loved one’s funeral.
The Social Fund Funeral Payment is available for the next of kin if they are receiving certain benefits, such as jobseeker’s allowance and pension credit. However, the amount that they receive depends on their circumstances. Even if they receive the full amount, this is usually not enough to cover all of the funeral costs.
One way that you can help with funeral costs is to buy a pre-paid funeral plan. This will secure the cost of funeral director fees at today’s prices and provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Not only will you be helping with the cost of your funeral, they’ll know that arrangements are in place and you’re getting the final send-off you would have wanted.
About the author
With a Masters from the University of Bristol, Jessica Hanson has worked in the funeral sector for several years, following the latest industry trends and writing about end of life planning. Jessica has previously written as a blogger for the Huffington Post, covering topics such as death positivity, understanding grief and how funerals are changing. You can find Jessica on LinkedIn and Twitter.