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Help with funeral costs

Funeral Expenses Payment

You may be eligible for help with funeral costs, but in some cases you will need to meet the requirements of the payment scheme offered.

Funeral Expenses Payment is a government scheme for people on a low income who are receiving certain benefits to help them pay for a funeral.

If you get one of these payments, you'll usually have to pay the government back from any money you get from the person's estate, such as their savings.

It won't cover the whole funeral bill, so you might have to pay up to a third of the cost of a simple funeral.

It can help to pay for:

  • death certificates or other documents
  • cremation fees, including the cost of the doctor's certificate
  • travel to arrange or go to the funeral
  • the cost of moving the body within the UK, if it's being moved more than 50 miles
  • burial fees for a particular plot
  • you can also get up to £1,000 for any other funeral expenses, such as funeral director's fees, flowers or the coffin.

Benefits and tax credits you must be in receipt of:

You (or your partner) must get one or more of the following:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • the disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit

You might also be eligible if you're getting a Support for Mortgage Interest loan.

You can still claim Funeral Expenses Payment if you've applied for these benefits and you're waiting to hear about your claim.

Public health funerals

Local authorities are required to provide public health funerals under section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.

Public health funerals are provided by local authorities for people who have passed away and have no next of kin, or whose next of kin, relatives or friends are unable or unwilling to make the necessary arrangements for a funeral. They are designed to protect public health and are important in ensuring that all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their circumstances.

Public health funerals are delivered and funded by local authorities (although local authorities can recover their costs from the estate of the deceased). For deaths that occur in hospital, NHS Trusts are advised to develop their own policy which takes into account their local authority protocol and work together to ensure a respectful burial or cremation as efficiently as possible.

Section 46, 'Burial and Cremation' of the Act requires that: It shall be the duty of a local authority to cause to be buried or cremated the body of any person who has died or been found dead in their area, in any case where it appears to the authority that no suitable arrangements for the disposal of the body have been or are being made otherwise than by the authority.

Local authorities are not responsible for managing the deceased's estate, beyond their right to recoup funeral costs.

If you have any questions or require any assistance in this matter you may contact our Payments and Charges Support Team on customerfinanceapp@sthelens.gov.uk

Downloads

Council contract funerals procedure (Word doc) [46KB] (opens new window)
Next of kin form (Word doc) [343KB] (opens new window)

Bereavement Support Payment

You may be able to get Bereavement Support Payment if your husband, wife or civil partner died in the last 21 months.

You must claim within three months of your partner's death to get the full amount.

You can claim up to 21 months after their death but you'll get fewer monthly payments.

The rate of support is banded based on your eligibility.

You'll get a first payment and then up to 18 monthly payments. There are two rates:

 First paymentMonthly payment
Higher rate£3,500£350
Lower rate£2,500£100

 

For more information, please visit www.gov.uk

British Gas Energy Trust

When funeral bills are causing financial hardship the British Gas Energy Trust can provide grants to help with bill payments.

Applicants must specify their relationship to the deceased, whether or not they've received a payment from The Social Fund (have had a budgeting loan), and the reason why the estate of the deceased isn't sufficient to cover the costs.

The British Gas Energy Trust do not provide grants for items that have already been paid for.

Visit British Gas Energy Trust for further information.

Budgeting Loan

 A Budgeting Loan can help pay for:

  • furniture or household items (for example, washing machines or other 'white goods')
  • clothes or footwear
  • rent in advance
  • costs linked to moving house
  • maintenance, improvements or security for your home
  • travelling costs within the UK
  • costs linked to getting a new job
  • maternity costs
  • funeral costs
  • repaying hire purchase loans
  • repaying loans taken for the above items

You may be eligible for a Budgeting Loan if you've been on certain benefits for six months.

You only have to pay back the amount you borrow, and repayments are taken automatically from your benefits.

Visit www.gov.uk for more information.

Support for child funeral costs

The Children's Funeral Fund for England can help to pay for some of the costs of a funeral for a child under 18 or a baby stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy.

It is not means-tested: what you earn or how much you have in savings will not affect what you get.

The burial or cremation must take place in England.

What the fund covers

The Children's Funeral Fund for England can help pay for the:

  • burial fees
  • cremation fees, including the cost of a doctor's certificate
  • coffin, shroud or casket (up to a cost of £300)

If you have other funeral expenses, you might be able to apply for Funeral Expenses Payment to cover them. You or your partner must be getting certain benefits - check if you're eligible for Funeral Expenses Payment.

How claiming works

The fees for the burial or cremation can be claimed directly by the burial or cremation provider - you should not be charged. How to claim for some other expenses (for example, the coffin) depends on if you are using a funeral director or not.

Claims must be made within six months of the funeral.

Visit www.gov.uk for more information.

Partnership Funeral Service

The Partnership Funeral Services is available to anyone who has to arrange the funeral for a deceased resident of the borough who is to be cremated at St Helens Crematorium or buried in St Helens or Newton Cemeteries. The service is also available if the deceased is to be buried in a private churchyard or cemetery, however private churchyard additional fees will apply.

The service is available to residents of St Helens and does not relate to your income in any way. No payment is made by St Helens Council.

 

What does a partnership funeral service provide?

A cremation or burial within the Borough at a reasonable cost and undertaken by experienced Funeral Directors and includes:

  • Collection of the deceased within the Boroughs boundaries (during business hours)
  • All arrangements for a dignified funeral at the crematorium or cemetery
  • Provision of the chapel of rest (during business hours)
  • Suitable coffin with appropriate fittings
  • Motor-hearse and one following limousine
  • Crematorium/Cemetery charges at St Helens Crematorium or St Helens / Newton-le-Willows Council Cemeteries
  • Medical referee fee
  • Clergy/Officiate and all medical fees

St Helens Council has negotiated an arrangement with local funeral directors who are well-established and reputable, they have agreed to provide the above specified funeral services which are arranged to the same high standard of any other funeral arranged by the company of your choice.

You can read more about the partnership funeral services in our Partnership Funeral leaflet (PDF) [759KB] (opens new window) .