Scottish government launches new benefit for funeral poverty

Ministers at Holyrood have a new 10-point plan to help families struggling with the rising costs of arranging a funeral

Many families are left struggling with debt after burying a loved one, with funeral costs spiralling up to several thousands of pounds.

The Scottish Government has announced a new 10-point plan to tackle funeral poverty, including a new Funeral Expense Assistance benefit available to families by the summer of 2019.

We know funeral costs can push people into poverty

The plans will also include a funeral bond pilot scheme allowing people to save towards the costs. And consumer protection of funeral plans will also be strengthened by ministers.

The basic costs of burial rose 8% to £1,373 in Scotland last year, according to Citizens Advice Scotland. And a recent study by Citizens Advice bureau in Stirling found a spike in so-called “paupers’ funerals” – no-frills burials arranged by the state – costing councils in Scotland £500,000 last year.

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“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting those who need it most following a bereavement,” said Equalities Minister Angela Constance.

“We know funeral costs can push people into poverty – and often it is those already in financial hardship who face increased difficulties,” she added.

We are taking decisive action to tackle this growing issue

“That is why we are taking decisive action to tackle this growing issue and have engaged with local authorities, the funeral sector and other support services.

“I am pleased by the willingness to work together to find solutions that support more affordable funerals.”