It is often a surprise to people how expensive funerals can become.
Though the ultimate price will depend upon a variety of options upwards of £2,000 is not entirely uncommon to pay for a full funeral and burial (or cremation). Some people choose to pre-pay for their funerals so that they do not leave a financial burden for their family members, but sometimes family members are caught unaware and must cover the cost themselves then wait to see if they can be reimbursed from the deceased estate. For individuals on low incomes, this extra cost can be catastrophic. A one-off Funeral Payment from the Social Fund may be available to help low-income families cope with these expenses.
A one-off Funeral Payment may be available to help with funeral costs if the person who has applied for the payment meets certain criteria. The criteria will take into account the applicant's existing benefits, his or her relationship to the deceased and the presence or absence of funds to pay for the funeral independently.
In general, individuals who receive (or have partners who receive) Income Support, (income-based) Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, some forms of Working Tax Credit, or some higher rates of Child Tax Credit may be eligible to receive a one-off Funeral Payment from the Social Fund. However, these individuals will likely need to be either the spouse or civil partner of the deceased, the parent or guardian of the deceased, or a friend or relative so close to the deceased that it is reasonable that (s)he has accepted the responsibility of organising the funeral. The applicant will also need to confirm that the death occurred in the UK and that the funeral will take place in the UK in order to be considered for Funeral Payment.
Claiming Funeral Payment
Applications for Funeral Payment must be made via the Funeral Payment claim form which is available at every local Jobcentre Plus and/or social security office. This application may be made from the date of death but within three months of the death. If a claim is approved, the Funeral Payment will most likely cover all burial or cremation fees, as well as up to £700 for further funeral expenses such as the cost of a funeral director, coffin and/or flowers. These extras will only be covered, however, if any pre-paid funeral plans do not already cover them.
Funeral Payment will most likely be issued via cheque to the applicant, though in the funeral director's name. If an application for Funeral Payment is denied, or the applicant feels that it has been incorrectly calculated, then (s)he may appeal the decision. If (s)he is still unhappy with the outcome of the appeal, (s)he may then appeal to an Appeal Tribunal for further consideration.
Repaying Funeral Payment
Though Funeral Payment may be approved in certain cases, any payment made must be repaid if the deceased's estate can cover it. This estate includes any property or other assets, as well as money saved, owed by or owed to the deceased. It does not, however, necessarily include any personal items that the deceased left to family or friends. The Social Fund will contact the person in charge of the funeral or executing/administering the estate after a Funeral Payment has been made to discuss the estate and repayment of funeral costs to the Social Fund. The cost of a funeral with burial or cremation can be high, and many low income families are unable to cover these costs. Funeral Payment from the Social Fund can help qualifying families cover these costs. More information about Funeral Payment is available from all local Jobcentre Plus offices as well as social service offices.