The Fair Funerals campaign has launched a new call to tackle funeral poverty. Campaigns manager Heather Kennedy explains how you can help.
One in six families faces debt and distress after arranging a funeral. Vital government help with basic funeral costs was capped at £700 in 2003, far less than the cost of the most basic funeral.
Now campaigners, charities and funeral industry are calling on the Chancellor Philip Hammond to #BurytheDebt and raise the funeral fund so it covers the cost of a basic funeral and grieving families are not forced into poverty and debt.
The #BurytheDebt campaign was launched on Tuesday 17 October with a funeral debt procession in Parliament Square. Campaigners are asking people to sign their petition to help put pressure on the Chancellor to act.
Shrinking state support
The funeral fund was designed to cover the cost of a basic funeral for grieving families who would otherwise be unable to afford one. Spending on the fund has only increased by 4.5% since 1988 – with 2017 expenditure the lowest for 10 years, and the average funeral fund award only covers 40% of a basic funeral.
Fair Funerals spokesperson Kristina tells her story of struggling with her mum’s deal at the same time as crippling funeral debts:
“With all the debt I couldn’t afford and the emotions from losing Mum, I just couldn’t grieve in peace.”
Chancellor challenged to act
Campaigners are asking the Chancellor Philip Hammond to raise the amount of money available for funeral expenses in line with funeral cost inflation, which would bring it to £1,377. They are asking that this figure be uprated annually in line with the retail price index.
Heather Kennedy, Fair Funerals campaigns manager, says:
“In the fifth richest country in the world, it’s simply not good enough that grieving families are being forced into poverty and debt trying to arrange a simple funeral after someone they love dies. Our government needs to take action to address this growing public concern and guarantee everyone in dignity in death. By increasing the funeral fund, many grieving families would be spared the emotional and financial burden of not being unable to afford a respectful funeral.”
Spread the word!
Church Action on Poverty supports the Fair Funerals campaign.