Scottish government commissions new study into funeral poverty

By agency reporter
October 9, 2015

Spiraling funeral costs add enormous stress to low income bereaved families and make the grief process even more overwhelming, a leading Church of Scotland figure has said.

The Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, convener of the Church and Society Council, made the remark after it emerged that the Scottish Government has commissioned a new study to identify ways of tackling funeral poverty.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil has asked the Scottish Working Group on Funeral Poverty chairman, John Birrell, working with Citizens Advice Scotland, to come up with a series of recommendations to address the rising costs of funerals.

The SNP Government highlighted figures released on 5 October in Royal London's National Funeral Cost Index which found that funeral costs averaged at £3,481 compared to £1,815 in 2005, which is a 92 per cent increase in Scotland.

Scottish Ministers said rising costs were due to pressures on burial space, changes to regulation and rising charges. Costs are expected to continue to rise in the coming years.

Mrs Foster-Fulton said: "We welcome the Scottish Government's initiative and look forward to working with them as they explore ways to support grieving families.

"Funeral prices have been spiralling, adding enormous stress to the bereaved and making the grief process even more overwhelming.

"Concern over debt increases anxiety and doesn't allow space for grieving. An inability to pay for a loved one's funeral is deeply distressing, often causing families to feel they have failed their loved one.

"This desire to 'do the best' for the deceased drives families to take on debt they cannot afford."

The Church of Scotland is working with funeral directors to try and encourage them to sign Quaker Social Action's Fair Funerals pledge.

* Read the Fair Funerals Pledge here: http://www.quakersocialaction.org.uk/fair-funeral-resources

* Church of Scotland http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/

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