More than £12,000 spent on Isle of Wight ‘paupers’ funerals

Figure reveal that 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.

Coffin on the shoulders of funeral directors

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.

National picture
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.”

He added:

“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

Monday, 14th January, 2019 5:19pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

Leave your Reply

9 Comments on "More than £12,000 spent on Isle of Wight ‘paupers’ funerals"

newest oldest most voted
Email updates?

I’ve always thought that basic disposal should be covered by the NHS for people who donate their organs.

I don’t want any fancy superstitious claptrap so would be perfectly fine with the NHS harvesting what they need and just throwing my carcass in the incinerator with the medical waste.

Sally Perry

Thanks YJC, this is something we were discussing over Christmas and I’m very interested in looking further into it.


If the council can access a service to provide a very basic funeral for £1,166.55 why is the stated basic cost more than three times that at £3,757?
If basic £1000 funerals were available perhaps fewer would be left to the council.


At least the deceased is laid to rest and that is all that matters. Some families do not have the money to pay for a funeral.

As funeral directors work on a gross profit of 60% (at least) there is more and more room for the basic “body in a box to the incinerator service”. I believe this Council charges around £750 or so for a cremation—so where does £3,700 or so come from? We also need a quicker way to safely dispose of bodies.It takes, I believe, at least 2 hours for… Read more »

Since when did the NHS pay for funerals when a patient dies in hospital – and if so, under what circumstances ??


YJC, in reality, it is almost impossible to donate your body for research these days unless you have a very unusual condition. I worked for many years in the funeral trade and cannot remember a single instance in the last ten years when a body was taken for research.


we could fly the dead to the north pole to feed the polar bears, I would be happy to go, once I am dead of course.