Govt sets out new rules on Funeral Expenses Payments

The Government sets out new rules on Funeral Expenses Payments

The government has announced several changes to the eligibility conditions relating to the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payments scheme that will take effect from 2 April.

The scheme allows people on a low income and in need of help to pay for a funeral to claim a Funeral Expenses Payment, which must be paid back to the government if the claimant receives money from the deceased’s estate.

Under the changes, claimants will be able to receive contributions from charities, relatives or friends without them being deducted from the overall sum payable towards funeral costs.

Additionally, from April, claimants can make an application within six months of the funeral date for help with funeral costs instead of the current three months. They will also have the option of submitting any evidence needed in support of their claim electronically.

Royal London funeral cost expert Louise Eaton-Terry said the changes were welcome, but missed the mark on the “biggest issue” facing bereaved families.

“It’s good to see small changes being made to the Funeral Payment process but the government has ignored the biggest issue,” she said. “Funeral costs continue to increase above inflation year on year, with our research showing that bereaved families who qualify for the fund face a shortfall of more than £2,000 to cover the cost of a funeral.

“While these reforms are a step in the right direction, they fail to address the value of the award, and we want the government to go further and commit to increasing the social fund funeral expenses payment.”

According to Royal London, the average cost of a funeral in the UK is £3,784 – an increase of 3% from 2016, and those who struggle to pay funeral costs take on an average debt of £1,680.