The government will not be raising the funeral fund to cover the mounting costs of a funeral.
The worry is this forces families into serious debt and poverty as they try to raise the money to say goodbye to their loved one.
Charities and groups supporting the bereaved informed the DWP that the reforms fell far short of addressing the fundamental problems with the fund; that it covers less than half the cost of a basic funeral and most people who need help don’t get it.
Bereaved people, charities and representatives from the funeral industry responded to the consultation, urging the government to go further and fix the fundamental problems with the fund, specifically that it covers less than half the cost of a basic funeral and that most people who need help are ineligible.
The DWP has now responded to the public saying that although they received a “significant number of responses” calling for the fund to be increased and the eligibility criteria extended, they have decided not to raise the amount the fund pays or extend the eligibility.
Following a cross-party investigation, MPs from the Work and Pensions Select Committee called on the DWP to raise the funeral fund to cover basic costs.
Heather Kennedy, Fair Funeral campaigns manager said: “David Gauke at the DWP is still not listening. His department has been inundated with evidence and personal stories from grieving people, charities and MPs urging them to raise the broken funeral fund so it covers the cost of a basic funeral. It’s very disappointing that he continues to ignore them.
“The inadequate funeral fund is forcing bereaved families, who only want to provide a decent send-off when someone they love dies, into poverty and debt. The government must listen to public concern surrounding this problem and create a proper state safety net for grieving families, one our country can be proud of, that ensures dignity in death for everyone.”
In response to the consultation responses, the DWP has said:
“We have given careful consideration to all of these additional comments [relating to the inadequacy of the fund and eligibility]. The Government believes that the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payments scheme makes a significant contribution towards a funeral.
The Government believes that the current eligibility criteria make sure that the scheme is targeted at those who need it most and reduces the potential for abuse of a limited resource. At this stage therefore, we will not be making any changes other than those set out in the consultation document. However, as with all of our policies we will continue to keep the Funeral Expenses Payments scheme under review.”