Paying for a Funeral during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Funerals are expensive. Whilst costs may vary depending on where you live in the UK, a 2018 report estimates that an average basic cremation costs £3,600 whilst an average basic burial costs £4,800. A further £2,100 can be added to this total to cover the cost of a remembrance ceremony. This is a large sum and it can cause undue stress during an already distressing time. Here, we explore solutions for those individuals who face financial concerns when paying for and arranging a funeral during the Coronavirus pandemic.
What is the Funeral Expenses Scheme?
The Funeral Expenses Scheme is a grant provided by the UK government to help cover the cost of a funeral. The scheme’s contribution may be used to assist with: the costs of burial for a particular plot; cremation fees (including a Doctor’s certificate); travel to arrange or attend a funeral; the cost of moving the body of the deceased (if the distance is greater than 50 miles); death certificates or documents; funeral director’s fees and items such as the coffin or flowers. It is however unlikely that the grant will cover the entire cost of the funeral.
How much will the Funeral Expenses Scheme contribute?
If the deceased passed away before the 8th of April 2020, the Funeral Expenses Scheme may contribute up to £700 towards the funeral. If the deceased passed away on or after 8 April 2020, the Funeral Expenses Scheme may contribute up to £1,000. However, if the deceased had already enlisted in a pre-paid funeral plan, the scheme may only contribute up to £120 to help cover the cost of items not included in that plan.
The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland (DWP) will determine the amount to contribute after evaluating the circumstances of those responsible for the funeral. This decision may include the assessment of other funds which are available to cover the costs, such as an insurance policy or the deceased’s estate.
Am I eligible to apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment?
In order to be eligible for the Funeral Expenses Payment, you (or your partner) must receive specific benefits or tax credits. These include but are not restricticted to: Income Support; Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; Pension Credit; Housing Benefit; Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit. In addition to this, the funeral must be being arranged in the UK, the European Economic Area or Switzerland and your relationship with the deceased must meet the scheme’s guidelines.
For a full list of relevant benefits and tax credits, as well as the rules on your relationship with the deceased, please see Gov. UK’s eligibility list.
It is also worth noting that you will be able to claim the Funeral Expenses Payment if you have applied for any of the listed benefits but are still awaiting the claim’s approval.
When might I not be eligible?
If you were the partner of, and lived with the deceased, the DWP will only take into consideration your benefits when reviewing your application.
However, if you did not live with the deceased, the DWP will also assess other close family members. If there is a close relative who does not receive any benefits, it may be deemed reasonable that they take responsibility for arranging the funeral. In such an instance, you would therefore not be eligible to receive payment from the scheme.
To determine who else might be considered responsible for arranging the funeral, please see the Quaker Social Action’s (QSA) order of priority, included in their Social Fund Funeral article.
The QSA offers insight into eligibility and other aspects of the Funeral Expenses Scheme application process. The information they provide includes: useful phone numbers such as that of the DWP Bereavement Service; online calculators that explain how certain benefits and tax credits are affected by changes to work or working hours; a guide to DWP’s notes on which information is required to make an application for benefits; application forms for the Funeral Expenses Payment and other articles, websites and forms which offer guidance on the matter.
How NEO Cremations can help
At NEO cremations, we understand that everyone deserves a dignified end-of-life service no matter their socio-economic background. Our ‘simple’, or direct cremations, are aimed to be just that: simple, dignified and performed with the utmost respect. They are not elaborate or complicated. They honour the deceased, place precedence on the essentials and aim to be an economic choice for any who might struggle with funding a traditional funeral. We price our direct cremations at a fixed, transparent rate, aiming to further remove any potential for confusion or complication.
In addition to this, our team members have had specific training with QSA so as to offer assistance to those who might wish to apply for the Funeral Expenses Scheme. We recognise that the conditions for eligibility and application process may not seem straightforward and want to be able to offer guidance and advice where it is required.
Arranging the funeral can be distressing. Ensuring you are able to pay for this funeral might often cause greater concern. At NEO cremations we appreciate the stress any uncertainty on the matter might cause, and we are here to help.