Poor people can’t afford to die

More than 100,000 people this year alone will struggle to leave enough money behind to cover the bill for their funerals. Poor people can’t afford to die without leaving a bill that their family need to find the money to pay.

The average cost of dying, including funeral, burial or cremation and Estate administration, is £7,622 – a rise of 7.1% in the past year.

Families on low incomes can get state help through the Social Fund Funeral Payment but face an average £1,277 shortfall, according to the University of Bath.

The report had challenged the Government to rethink the Department for Work and Pensions-administered payment, which is highlighted as ‘outdated’, ‘overly complex’ and ‘insufficient’ at meeting the needs of the poorest in society.

The cost of a funeral has risen by 80% since 2004.

Dr Kate Woodthorpe, from the university’s Centre for Death and Society, said:

Medical advancement has made significant improvements to death rates.

As a result people are living longer, which requires larger incomes and pension pots to ensure these extra years can be afforded.

Whether or not these will stretch to cover funeral costs is unclear.

At the same time, the younger generations have less ready cash to call on, so they cannot necessarily be relied on to pick up the bill either.

We know that the long-term decline in death rates is about to reverse, with a projected rise in the number of deaths around 15 to 20% in the next two decades.

We also know that right now, with some of the lowest death rates ever recorded, the safety nets provided by the state via the Social Fund Funeral Payment and local authority public health funerals are under pressure.

Their sustainability into the future is debatable.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said:

The Funeral Payment scheme continues to cover the necessary costs of burial or cremation in full, because we know that these costs may vary widely across the country.

A significant contribution is also made towards the fee levied by funeral directors which is currently set at £700.

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