Current Affairs

Paupers’ funeral spend nears £5.4m in 2018

New data obtained by insurance company Royal London revealed that local authorities spend almost £5.4m on public health funerals in the financial year 2017/18.

This was a 3.5 percent increase on last year’s figure and accounted for over 3,800 paupers’ funerals, costing an average of £1,403. The research also showed that 31 percent of public health funerals carried out were as a result of bereaved families being unable to afford the cost of a funeral.

The data is based on Freedom of Information requests submitted by Royal London to 390 local authorities in the UK. A basic funeral costs on average £3,757 according to Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index, which also found 12 percent went into debt to pay for a loved one’s funeral. Other reasons for public health funerals included the deceased having no family (31 percent) and families unwilling to pay for the funeral (10 percent).

Local councils in the West Midlands spent a £1.3m on public health funerals, followed by London councils, who spent more than £800,000 and carried out 654 funerals, which was the highest number.

Birmingham City Council in West Midlands spent the most, with public health funerals costing them £990,437. Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in Northern Ireland had the lowest spend on funerals at £275.

Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert at Royal London, said: “Local authorities are raising burial and cremation fees as they face cuts in funding from central government. This is one of the key drivers of funeral cost inflation and ultimately results in an increase in the number of public health funerals local councils have to perform, as bereaved families are unable to pay for their loved one’s send off.

“More support is needed to help those struggling with funeral costs and the government needs to improve the funeral payment benefit to help tackle funeral poverty.”

Councils with highest total spend on public health funerals in 2017/18


Total Cost

Birmingham City Council


Manchester City Council


Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council


London Borough of Lambeth


Richmond and Wandsworth


Dudley Metropolitan Borough


Bradford Metropolitan Council


Coventry City Council


Perth & Kinross Council


Portsmouth City Council


 Councils with lowest total spend on public health funerals in 2017/18


Total Cost

Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Borough   Council


Eastleigh Borough Council


Monmouthshire Council


Newport Council


Thurrock Council


Newry and Mourne District Council


Dartford Borough Council


High Peak Borough


City of London


Lisburn & Castlereagh City   Council


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