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We applaud the additional support made available for families to pay for funerals from the Scottish Government as of 1 April 2020.

Low income families can now claim £1000 towards the expenses related to a funeral. This increase of £300 represents the first rise in a Government funeral expense benefit in over a decade. It follows industry feedback that the above inflation rises experienced year-on-year by local authorities stripped the benefit’s usefulness.

Families can use this £1000 towards covering the cost of funeral director fees, a coffin, flowers, the service or announcements. It is part of the Funeral Support Payment which is made up of three separate elements:

  1. Burial or cremation costs
  2. Travel costs
  3. Expenses – this is the part being increased

With speculation that both local authority – and privately owned – crematoria and graveyard providers are likely to raise their fees next month, this financial benefit is all the more welcome. It is also coupled with improved eligibility. This means more people can successfully apply for the Funeral Support Payment (which replaced the UK Government’s Funeral Expense Payment in September 2019).

With 12% of families taking on debt to cover the cost of a loved one’s funeral (Royal London 2019 Funeral Costs Index), William Purves welcomes the increase. Says Andrew Purves: “It’s a fair way to ensure families have maximum choice when it comes to arranging a loved one’s send-off. As funeral directors, we sometimes see families curbing expenses that would have made a funeral memorable and personal. Increasing their access to choice improves their experience – and the long term chances of having a healthy bereavement.”

Scottish Government guidelines state the flat rate payment will be eligible to anyone living in Scotland, where the relationship to the person who has died is the nearest, where they have financial responsibility for the funeral and if they are on a qualifying benefit or tax credit. It is anticipated that 5000 families will benefit from this new benefit annually.

Further information is available at https://www.mygov.scot/funeral-support-payment