The Scottish government has released its annual Funeral Support Payment update which revealed almost £8.7m was given out to support those who have lost loved ones in the past year.
Almost 6,000 people in Scotland have received support in its first full-year, according to the latest statistics. Eligible applicants can currently receive an average of £1,761 from the government to help with the costs of a burial or cremation and expenses, such as travel and flowers.
The Scottish government said it has increased the standard flat rate from £700 to £1,000 for applications received from 1 April 2020, which can be used to meet other funeral costs, such as the funeral car or funeral service.
In addition, if the person who died had a funeral plan, up to £122.05 will be reduced from the plan.
The report showed that between 16 September 2019 and 30 September 2020, 56% of applications were processed within 10 working days. Around 77% of applications were processed within 15 working days, whilst 23% took 21 days or more to be processed.
Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult events any of us can face, it’s even harder when there’s extra stress trying to find the money to pay for a funeral. We want to do what we can to stop those who are dealing with grief having to get into debt too.
“The economic impact of Covid-19 means many more people are receiving Universal Credit or other qualifying benefits than previously, which means they could also be eligible for the Funeral Support Payment.”
She added: “I’d encourage anyone who thinks they might qualify for this important financial support to find out more and apply. People can apply for the payment up to 6 months after a funeral has taken place, although if you could not apply within this timescale because of COVID-19, we’ll accept your application as on time.
“Making sure that everyone gets the financial support they are entitled to is a basic step in putting dignity and respect at the heart of social security in Scotland.”