The government has introduced a new scheme to make it easier and cheaper to help those on a low income pay for funerals.
The Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payments scheme will be able to take contributions from charities, friends or relatives without the money being deducted from the overall sum of the funeral costs.
The changes allow people to receive up to £700 towards funeral expenses. Also, claimants can now make an application within six months of the funeral date rather than the current three.
They can also submit evidence to support their claim electronically.
The changes will take effect from 2 April 2018.
Kit Malthouse, welfare minister, said to Parliament: “I am pleased to announce that it is my intention to lay regulations in the House… that will make some enhancements to a number of the eligibility conditions relating to the social fund funeral expenses payments scheme, and simplify the process for making a claim.”
David Collingwood, director of funerals at Co-op Funeralcare, said: “Changes to the social fund are a start, but we believe there is more that could be done by government on this to provide better support to the bereaved.
“The value of the payment itself, still falls far short of the overall funeral charge, meeting only 30-40% of the average cost.”
He added: “Whilst these changes will make it easier to submit evidence, in reality families will still face a difficult process in applying for support, and this can be overwhelming for them during a time of loss.
We also believe there needs to be upfront transparency, so that families have additional reassurance and find out before the funeral whether they will receive support from the fund.”