Local MP Mark Pawsey, who is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Funerals and Bereavement, last week spoke during a debate in Parliament on Funeral Poverty. The debate, held in Westminster Hall, called upon the Government to do more to address the growing issue of Funeral Poverty. Under the currently system, families on low income can claim support towards the cost of a funeral, although the amount which can be claimed was set in 1998 and is often insufficient to cover the cost of a funeral.
During the debate, Mark said:
“The existing system of Funeral Payments is not working. The £700 grant is inadequate and only 53% of those applying for a grant are successful. The consequence is that many people are getting into substantial debt. We should have a broader discussion and more openness about the cost of funerals, and greater thought should be given to the options available to people at a much earlier stage in their life.”
Speaking at the debate, Justin Tomlinson MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Disabled People, thanked Mark for his comments on the costs of funerals and said that the Government would consider carefully the points raised during the debate. The Minister highlighted that in May 2012 interest-free social fund budgeting loans were made available for funeral costs, in addition to the funeral payment to help families during these difficult times.
Speaking after the debate Mark said:
“The issues surrounding funeral poverty are complex and it is not an area that receives a significant amount of coverage. During my time as Chair of the APPG on Funerals and Bereavement, we have looked at this issue and the challenges that face families, often at one of the most difficult times of their life. I have met with constituents recently who have raised with me the lack of support that can be available for families at these times and I have previously raised these concerns with Government Ministers.”
“I welcome the comments made by the Minister and that the Government will continue to look at how we can help families during this difficult time. There is more action that can be taken, both by the Department for Work and Pensions, who administer Funeral Payments, but also by Funeral Directors who should act to make the costs associated with funerals more transparent.”