More than £10,000 was spent on “paupers’ funerals” on the Isle of Wight last year, as more families are unable or unwilling to cover the costs of their loved ones’ arrangements.
The Isle of Wight Council spent a total of £12,832 on public health funerals over the 2017-18 financial year, according to a Freedom of Information request submitted by mutual insurer Royal London.
The Local Government Association said there are thousands of people across the country “with no family or friends to care for them or arrange, attend or pay for their funeral”.
“No frills” services paid by IWC
Public health funerals, which are also known as paupers’ funerals, are “no frills” services provided by local authorities, which in general include a coffin and the services of a funeral director but do not include flowers, obituaries or transport for family members. Families can attend if they wish.
There were 11 carried out on the Isle of Wight in 2017-18, compared with four in 2016-17.
The total cost of public health funerals across the UK in 2017-18 was more than £5 million, according to Royal London, which received responses from 275 local authorities.
More than 3,800 such funerals were carried out across the UK last year, costing councils an average of £1,403.
31% could not afford cost
Nearly a third (31%) of families who turned to their local council for a public health funeral did so because they were unable to foot the bill, Royal London found.
The mutual insurer said the average cost of a basic funeral is £3,757.
Other reasons for public health funerals included the deceased having no family, and families being unwilling to pay for the funeral.
Three times as many
The amount spent by the Isle of Wight Council on public health funerals in 2017-18 more than trebled compared with 2016-17.
Louise Eaton-Terry, a funeral cost expert at Royal London, said:
“More support is needed to help those struggling with funeral costs.”
LGA: ‘Paupers’ funerals are a last resort
An LGA spokesman said:
“Public health funerals are a last resort but, where there is no-one able to pay for a funeral, councils will hold one in a respectful and dignified way.
“Councils will try to establish whether the deceased had any religious requirements to enable them to respect their wishes in the provision of a burial or cremation.”
“The increase in these funerals is an extra pressure on over-stretched council budgets which pay for them.”
He said the figures also do not take into the account funerals paid for by the NHS when people die in hospital.
Article shared by Data Reporter as part of OnTheWight’s collaboration with Press Association and Urbs Media