Councils spent £6.3m on funerals last year, research finds

Local authorities spent £6.3m on public health funerals in 2018/19, with more than 4,000 taking place, according to research.

Insurance company Royal London sent FOI requests to 400 councils asking how many of the funerals they paid for.

A public health funeral is arranged by the allocated council of the deceased when there is no traceable family, or the family is unable or unwilling to arrange and pay for a funeral.

From the 383 councils that responded, the average cost of a public health funeral to local councils was £1,507.

Their research also revealed that 21 councils in the UK by default do not return ashes to the family after a cremation funeral and 18 councils charge bereaved families for the ashes to be returned.

Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert at Royal London, said: ‘It’s incredibly sad when bereaved families have no choice but to seek a public health funeral. But when some families are refused the ashes of their loved ones or are not even allowed to attend the funeral, it is clear that they are being treated unfairly.

‘It’s about time the system was overhauled, and we’re calling for legislation on minimum standards for public health funerals to ensure everyone can, at the very least, attend a funeral and collect their loved one’s ashes.’

Royal London is calling for legislation on minimum standards for public health funerals. They also say local authorities in the UK should return ashes to traceable families free of charge if requested.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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