New system aims to combat funeral poverty


The Scottish Government has unveiled a new new Funeral Support Payment, which will support low income families who lose a loved one

9th September 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A new funeral fund has been created to help low income families who suffer a bereavement.

The new scheme from the Scottish Government will replace the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Funeral Expense Payment for people living in Scotland.

The changes mean around 40% more people will be eligible for financial support at the point of bereavement. People will be able to apply over the phone, by post or online for the first time. And, once Social Security Scotland is fully operational, face-to-face pre-application support will be available across the country.

The initiative has been developed with input from those with experience of the present DWP system. The Scottish Government said this has helped identify parts of the DWP application process that people find difficult or distressing, helping to improve the process and remove barriers to apply.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most tragic events any of us can face.  At that difficult time, it’s even harder when there’s extra stress finding the money to pay for a funeral.

“Our new Funeral Support Payment has been designed and tested with members of the public and stakeholders including funeral directors and welfare advisors to ensure the end product is one we can be proud of.

“The new support will reach far more people struggling with funeral costs and is backed by around £2 million additional funding. The flat rate element of the Funeral Support Payment will be £700 for the majority of applications, and we have committed to annually uprating this in line with inflation – something the UK Government have not done since 2003.”

Derek Mitchell, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “We made the case for the payment to be increased so it keeps pace with the cost of living, and also for widening eligibility so more people can claim it, and we are delighted the Scottish Government listened.

“A funeral can put massive pressure on peoples’ finances, heaping stress on grieving families. This payment in delivering support to families during that period, delivering some security and peace of mind, will be invaluable.”