Scottish Government introduces Funeral Expense Assistance

By agency reporter
January 20, 2019

A new benefit providing help for people on low-incomes to meet the costs of a funeral is on course to be delivered by the Scottish Government through Social Security Scotland by summer 2019.

Funeral Expense Assistance (FEA) will replace the current DWP Funeral Payment in Scotland and improvements mean around 40 per cent more people will be eligible to apply. FEA will provide financial support directly to those who need it most at the point of bereavement. Regulations enabling delivery of this new system have been laid in Parliament on 18 January 2019.

As with all Scottish Government benefits, Funeral Expense Assistance has been developed with input from those with experience of the present system – helping identify and address the parts of the DWP application process that people currently find difficult or distressing and improving the process and removing barriers to apply.

Welcoming the progress in delivering the new benefit, 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 Funeral Expense Assistance will increase eligibility by around 40 per cent and so reach far more people struggling with the costs, and is backed by around £2 million additional funding.

“Help will be provided towards burial or cremation costs, certain transport costs, plus £700 for other costs such as funeral directors fees or flowers. We have committed to annually uprating the £700 to take account of the impact of inflation – something the UK Government has not done since 2003.

“This is a demand led benefit and forecasts are that we will spend £6.3 million in the first full year of operation – 25 per cent more than the DWP spent on this benefit in 2017/18. And like the Best Start Grant, we will encourage people to apply and get this financial support to people who need it most.

“I am pleased that this benefit will be available later this year and will deliver an improved scheme to help those on lower incomes pay for the cost of a funeral. This fits well with our wider work to tackle funeral poverty and the cost of funerals.”

The payment has three elements:

  • Burial or cremation costs
  • A flat rate payment towards other expenses for example, funeral director fees, coffin, flowers.
  • Certain transport costs

The average DWP Funeral Payment was £1,372 in 2017/18.

Scottish Government work to tackle funeral poverty is set out in the Funeral Costs Plan, which is being progressed in partnership with the funeral industry, councils and the third sector.

Following a public consultation, guidance on funeral costs is being finalised, to help improve the availability and transparency of funeral, burial and cremation costs, helping people understand, compare and choose services that are right for them.

* Scottish Government https://www.gov.scot/

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