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Help with funeral costs

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


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