CAS welcomes new support for people facing funeral poverty
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement of more support for people facing funeral poverty.
The Scottish Government has announced that extra support will be made available for people on low-income benefits to pay for the cost of a funeral.
The Funeral Support Payment’s rate for expenses such as funeral director fees, a coffin, and flowers, is to be increased from £700 to £1,000 for all applications received from 1 April.
The Funeral Support Payment is made up of three separate parts: burial or cremation costs; travel costs; and a standard rate for other expenses – and it is this element which is being increased.
Introduced in September last year, the Funeral Support Payment replaced the UK Government’s Funeral Expense Payment in Scotland, greatly increasing eligibility. It is intended to help alleviate the burden of debt faced by those on low income benefits when paying for a funeral.
Jamie Stewart, CAS spokesperson, said: “We have fought a long campaign on this issue and have been calling for better support for people who are struggling to afford a decent funeral for their loved one. We are pleased the government has listened to our campaign.
“Bereavement is an incredibly difficult time for anyone, and the added distress of being unable to afford a funeral can be very upsetting. This announcement is a further step in the right direction for bereaved families but many will still find it difficult to afford a dignified funeral, so we hope to see further action on this issue in future.”
Shirley-Anne Somerville, social security secretary, added: “At a time when families are struggling to come to terms with the death of a loved one, the last thing they need is extra financial stress.
“I am proud we are increasing the standard rate by 40% to £1,000 to support those paying for a funeral just months after introducing this important new payment.
“This increase, alongside the extended eligibility we have introduced, means the Funeral Support Payment is there to ease the pressures on up to 5,000 people annually at such a difficult time in their lives. So far the total average pay-out has been around £1,500.
“This benefit is part of the new Social Security system we are building from scratch for the Scottish people, with fairness, dignity and respect at its heart.”