Improved financial support to help with bereavement costs
A new benefit providing help for people on low incomes to meet the costs of a funeral will be available from next week.
Funeral Support Payment will be delivered by Social Security Scotland from September 16 and will replace the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Funeral Expense Payment for people living in Scotland.
The changes mean around 40% more people will be eligible for financial support at the point of bereavement. People will be able to apply over the phone, by post or online for the first time. And, once Social Security Scotland is fully operational, face-to-face pre-application support will be available across the country.
As with all Scottish Government benefits, Funeral Support Payment has been developed with input from those with experience of the present DWP system. This has helped identify parts of the DWP application process that people currently find difficult or distressing, helping us improve our new process and remove barriers to apply.
Announcing the launch date, social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most tragic events any of us can face. At that difficult time, it’s even harder when there’s extra stress finding the money to pay for a funeral.
“Our new Funeral Support Payment has been designed and tested with members of the public and stakeholders including funeral directors and welfare advisors to ensure the end product is one we can be proud of.
“The new support will reach far more people struggling with funeral costs and is backed by around £2 million additional funding. The flat rate element of the Funeral Support Payment will be £700 for the majority of applications, and we have committed to annually uprating this in line with inflation – something the UK Government have not done since 2003.
“This is a demand-led benefit and forecasts are that we will invest more than £6 million in support in the first full year of operation. And as with the Best Start Grant, we will encourage people to apply and get this financial support.”
Derek Mitchell, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the launch of the Funeral Support Payment, replacing Funeral Expenses Allowance. We made the case for the payment to be increased so it keeps pace with the cost of living, and also for widening eligibility so more people can claim it, and we are delighted the Scottish Government listened.
“A funeral can put massive pressure on peoples’ finances, heaping stress on grieving families. This payment in delivering support to families during that period, delivering some security and peace of mind, will be invaluable.”