Can’t afford to die? The rise of funeral poverty


Funeral poverty is the entrenched cycle of financial deprivation that the death of a loved one can cause.

One in seven can’t afford to pay for funeral costs in the UK, according to 2015 Sun Life research. The national figure for funeral poverty shortfall came to £131 million last year, and while many take on debt or sell off possessions to cover the costs, the average shortfall for each funeral is still £1,200.

The cost of a simple funeral nowadays can often exceed £10,000.

  • £3,000 for a burial plot.
  • £2,000 for a coffin.
  • Plus the flowers, the procession, and the reception.

“Funeral services” was the most common item given for credit card usage in the UK in 2013.

There is a subtle pressure from many funeral directors. Percy, whose brother recently passed away, said: “They made me feel like I was short-changing a loved one who has just died; they [the funeral directors] prey upon you at a time when you are grieving.”

For those who cannot raise the fund to pay for a service, the local council will conduct a public health funeral. These council funerals will often bulk bury people in shared unmarked graves.

These types of funerals have risen by 50 per cent in the last four years.

Turn2us are committed to eradicating UK poverty of all kinds. If you are recently bereaved there may be benefits, grants or other financial support available to you.

You may be entitled to Bereavement Support Payment if your husband, wife or civil partner has passed away after 6 April 2017. You may also be able to claim Bereavement Allowance or Bereavement Payment if the death occurred before 6 April 2017.

Additionally you may be able to access Funeral Payment benefits if you are (or your partner was) receiving certain benefits.

The Widowed Parents Allowance is also available if your partner died before 6 April 2017 and you have children under the age of 19.

You may also be eligible for help with housing costs.

For further advice and support on the Widowed Parents Allowance