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Getting government help with funeral costs

If you live in the UK and receive benefits, you may be able to get government help with funeral costs.

What is the government funeral grant?

In the UK, the government gives financial help towards a funeral for people who receive benefits. It’s called the Funeral Expenses Payment, or the Funeral Support Payment in Scotland. You might also hear it referred to as the DWP Funeral Grant.

The grant covers some essential funeral costs and provides money to put towards other things you might like as part of the service.

Who qualifies for a funeral grant?

To get government help to pay for your funeral costs, you’ll need to prove your relationship to the person who has died, and also prove that you receive certain benefits. You also need to hold the funeral in the UK, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

To receive a government funeral grant you must be receiving some form of financial assistance or benefit. This can include:

  • Income support
  • Jobseeker’s allowance
  • Employment and support allowance
  • Housing credit
  • Pension credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Universal credit
  • Working tax credit (specifically, the disability element)

You may also be eligible for support if you receive financial assistance for a mortgage.

If you’ve applied for one of the benefits listed above and are waiting for it to be approved, you can still apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment. You don’t need to wait until your other benefits have been approved.

You can see full details about who is eligible for the funeral payment on the UK government website.

What does a funeral payment cover?

Funeral Payments don’t cover all aspects of the funeral. But they can cover part or all of the cost of some of the most important things. These include:

  • Death certificates
  • Doctor’s certificates
  • Burial or cremation fees
  • Travel to and from the funeral
  • Costs associated with moving a body inside the UK, if the distance is greater than 50 miles

How much will the government pay towards a funeral?

The government funeral payment will cover all or part of the costs listed above, plus you’ll get an additional fund of up to £1,000. You can use this for costs associated with the funeral service itself, including funeral director's services, catering, flowers or the coffin.

It’s important to know that if the person who has died had a funeral plan in place, the maximum you’ll be able to claim is £120. You can use this for any costs not covered by the funeral plan.

Keep in mind that the funeral grant probably won't cover the full cost of the funeral. Read this article to learn more: How much does a funeral cost?

How to apply for a funeral grant

You can claim for a funeral payment either before or after the funeral has taken place. If you apply before the funeral, the money will be paid directly to the funeral director or other authority in charge of the service. If you apply after the funeral (within six months of the funeral taking place), the money will be paid directly into your bank or building society account.

You can apply for the funeral grant by phone or by post. Visit the government website to find the contact details for your country or to download the funeral grant form.

How long does the funeral payment take to come through?

In Scotland, the government will reply to your application within 10 days to tell you if your claim has been approved. If it has, then you’ll usually get the payment within 4-5 working days from the date on your letter.

There isn’t currently any info available about waiting times for people in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Find more help towards funeral costs

In most cases, the government funeral grant won’t cover the full cost of a funeral. This means there will still be some things you need to pay for.

Here are some other things you can do to help pay for the funeral:

  • Check if the person who died had a funeral plan or life insurance – you could use this to help cover the cost.
  • Shop around and compare funeral director costs to get the best quote.
  • Consider having an unattended funeral – this is a lot less expensive than a traditional funeral, and is becoming more and more popular in the UK.
  • Get advice about other bereavement benefits that you might be eligible for. You can do this when you claim your funeral expenses payment by phone, or by contacting Citizens Advice. You can also read this article to learn more about funeral costs help.