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55% of Social Fund Funeral Payments fall short

The Department for Work and Pensions’ Social Fund Funeral Payment system “lacks coherence in terms of both the process of application, and how it deals with diverse family relationships,” according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Bath.

The study, which incorporated interviews with claimants and key stakeholders, evaluated the current funding system which was originally introduced in 1988. It reviewed the implications it had on local authorities and funeral directors, collated views on the efficiency of the current administration and examined the process and experience of claiming from the perspective of a claimant.

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Though there was a success rate for claimants of 54.3 per cent for the period 2012 to 2013, the average award for successful claims was £1,225, significantly less than the £3,500 that is routinely expected for a burial or cremation to cost. The allocations of the awarded funds saw a £700 contribution towards the funeral with the additional amount in place to cover other associated fees.

In addition it was unclear as to who was eligible to submit an application as the current evaluation system “means that those who want to take responsibility for the funeral can be informed by the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) that another family member, even if they are estranged, is responsible for meeting the cost of the funeral.” This results in claimants “confused and frustrated at the time of bereavement.”

The full ‘Funeral Poverty in the UK: Issues for Policy’ report can be found here:

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