The Scottish government has announced that the Funeral Support Payment’s rate for expenses, such as funeral director fees, a coffin and flowers, is to rise from its current rate of £700 for all applications received from April 1st, to £1000.
Introduced in September last year, the payment replaced the UK Government’s Funeral Expense Payment in Scotland, significantly increasing eligibility. It is intended to help alleviate the burden of debt faced by those on low income benefits when paying for a funeral. Around 5000 people are expected to be supported annually by the payment and the average pay-out so far has been around £1500.
“At a time when families are struggling to come to terms with the death of a loved one, the last thing they need is extra financial stress,” said Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.
“I am proud we are increasing the standard rate by 40% to £1000 to support those paying for a funeral just months after introducing this important new payment.
“This increase, alongside the extended eligibility we have introduced, means the Funeral Support Payment is there to ease the pressures on up to 5000 people annually at such a difficult time in their lives. This benefit is part of the new Social Security system we are building from scratch for the Scottish people, with fairness, dignity and respect at its heart.”
Funeral costs are a big problem for many people on low incomes across the UK, and as the costs of a basic cremation & service continue to rise, many people will still need life insurance if they are to have a dignified send-off.
Louise Eaton-Terry from Royal London welcomed the move by the Scottish government;
“Scotland has made the right decision to raise the benefit in line with England and Wales and, having previously committed to annual increases, they are now leading the way. Westminster should follow with the same commitment to avoid the benefit being frozen as it has been for the last 16 years. Increasing the benefit in line with inflation will make a real impact on funeral poverty and help those with no choice but to take on debt to pay for a funeral.”