Dodgy moneysaving tip #1: Get the State to pay for a loved one's funeral
Time was, if you couldn’t afford a funeral for your nearest and dearest, you were ashamed. Being buried by the State was the ultimate damning condemnation that you really were down and out. However, nowadays it seems that pauper’s funerals are just another legitimate way to save money for some unscrupulous sorts.
With the average cost of a funeral now at £3,500, in these cash-strapped times, it’s no wonder people’s eyes are watering. While traditionally paid for by the residuary legatee- the person who gets all the deceased’s money- if there is nothing to leave, coughing up for a funeral is a hefty burden to lay on your next of kin. Of course, some people buy funeral plans, paying a small amount every week or month to cover the inevitable eventuality, but these don’t always cover all costs. So what are grieving families to do?
Well there are two options. If you are on a low-income and qualify for certain benefits, you can get a Funeral Payment to help you with the costs of a send-off, although it doesn’t cover all of the average cost. However, if you don’t qualify, or you want a top-up, there is still the option of a ‘pauper’s funeral’.
The pauper’s funeral rules were meant to look after those with no relatives, and make sure they were properly buried or cremated (not least to stop the spread of icky diseases from abandoned bodies), but the rules also apply where family are unable, or increasingly unwilling, to pay.
A new study by researchers at the University of Bath has found that the number of these funerals is increasing with people “declining” to pay for a funeral and instead turning to the State as a “legitimate option.” The report also describes council workers' dismay and frustration at seeing relatives turn up to a State-funded funeral with expensive flower arrangements and memorials to embellish the send-off.
The report concludes that there needs to be a change in the law to ensure truly needy bereaved families are protected, while the State is protected from those exploiting the system.