Co-operative Society takes action on funeral poverty

Co-operative Funeral CareWe were delighted to hear that the Heart of England Co-operative Society has launched a new service to help people on low incomes manage the costs of funerals. This is great news in the light of our joint work with Quaker Social Action on the growing problem of funeral poverty.

You can read the full announcement from the Co-operative Society after the break.

The Heart of England Co-operative Society is lending a helping hand to families hit by ever-increasing funeral costs with the offer of a range of new payment options.

The Society recognises that with a standard funeral including disbursements costing  around £3,300 on average locally, many families are unable to afford this – further adding to their distress.

As a result the Society is allowing people to make the necessary financial arrangements for the inevitable by introducing a low interest rate credit scheme, aimed at families without a pre-paid funeral plan, who perhaps have lost a loved one unexpectedly. The scheme enables them to pay for their loved ones’ send-offs over 12, 24 or 36 months.

According to figures from the National Association of Funeral Directors – the industry body dedicated to maintaining standards throughout the profession in the interests of bereaved families – the national average cost of a cremation stands at £2,030 while a burial costs an average £2,192. This however does not include the disbursements (third party charges -eg for the cemetery or crematorium and the officiant) which adds another £961 on to the bill for cremation or a further £1259 for a burial.

The report says increased crematorium charges, inflation, wage increases, rising costs of fuel and raw materials are among the factors pushing up the costs of funerals, while cuts in government funding mean many local authorities have also been forced to increase their revenues.

With a history stretching back more than 180 years the Society is one of the most established funeral service providers in the area.

Darryl Smith, General Manager of the Society’s Funeral Division, said: “There is an increasing financial pressure on the funerals industry and on consumers because of the rising costs of skills and raw materials associated with funerals.

“But there are a number of options out there which are designed to help families in the event of losing their loved ones.

“Schemes such as pre-paid funerals allow consumers to take the worry off their loved ones’ shoulders in the event of their deaths, while credit schemes like our own may be suitable to those of our client families who have not made any type of provision to cover funeral costs.”

Alarmingly, a report by consumer magazine Which? in 2014 suggests funeral costs are set to rise to more than £4,300 for cremations and £6,100 for burials in the next five years.

The report by the magazine shows that only 16 per cent of consumers have an adequate policy in place to cover the cost of their funerals. A staggering 68 per cent of consumers do not have any policy and 14 per cent have a policy which only partially covers funeral expenses.

Of those who don’t have a policy, 66 per cent of funeral costs are paid for at least in part by the deceased through savings, 12 per cent are picked up in whole in part by the partner of the deceased while 15 per cent are picked up in whole or in part by the children of the deceased.

Over the past few months a mounting campaign in the press and on social media – #funeralpoverty – has highlighted the plight of families struggling with funeral debt.

Among the horror stories are tales of impoverished families burying their loved ones in their back gardens.

The Heart of England Co-operative Society operates a network of 12 funeral homes in Coventry, Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

To find out more or for a free, non-obligation chat pop into any branch of The Co-operative Funeralcare. Alternatively log on to www.heartofengland-coop.co.uk

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