Getting government help with funeral costs
Losing a loved one is an incredibly trying time for everyone, regardless of their income or social background. In order that all bereaved persons can afford a simple but reverential funeral to pay their last respects to the deceased, the Government Funeral Payment scheme which subsidises part of the costs incurred.
Whether or not you are eligible to receive financial support through the Funeral Payment system will depend entirely on your own circumstances. However, the government has made steps this year to make the process more accessible and transparent, allowing those in need to access crucial funds at the most difficult of times.
Who is eligible for the Funeral Payment Scheme?
In order to qualify for government help with funeral costs, you must be able to prove that your relationship to the deceased was close enough to meet the government’s criteria, and you must be planning to hold the funeral in the UK, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
Additionally, to receive a government funeral grant you must also be already 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)
It’s possible that you will also be eligible if you receive financial assistance for a mortgage, and you can claim Funeral Payment even if your application for one of the aforementioned benefits has not yet been approved.
What does a Funeral Payment cover?
Funeral Payments do not cover all aspects of the funeral, but they can cover part or all of the cost of some of the most crucial components. These include:
• Death certificates
• Doctor’s certificates
• Plot fees in the case of burial
• Cremation fees in the case of cremation
• Travel to and from the funeral
• The expenses associated with moving a body inside the UK, if the distance is greater than 50 miles
Alongside these costs, there is an additional fund of up to £700 to be used for costs associated with the funeral service itself, including contracting a funeral director, catering, flowers or the coffin. It is important to note that if the deceased has a funeral plan already in place, the maximum you will be entitled to claim for costs not covered by the plan is £120.
How to claim and how to receive the money
You can claim for a Funeral Payment either before or after the funeral has taken place. If you do so before and the application is approved, the money will be paid directly to the funeral director or other authority in charge of the service. If you do so after (within six months of the funeral taking place), the money will be paid directly into your bank or building society account.
To make a claim, visit the government website and either download a form to send by post, or call the relevant number displayed on the website. At the same time, a trained advisor can provide information on any other relevant bereavement benefits you may be entitled to.