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New benefit will help grieving families avoid funeral poverty

Published on 09 September 2019 02:36 PM

Age Scotland has welcomed a new benefit that will help thousands of Scottish people struggling to afford a funeral for their loved ones.

The Scottish Government has announced that the Funeral Support Payment will be available from Monday 16th September. 

Forty per cent more people will now be eligible for help with funerals from Social Security Scotland, with the average payment £700. It replaces the old Funeral Expense Payment from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The application process has been made simpler and easier, removing intrusive questions that applicants had found distressing. People can apply by phone, post or online, with plans for face-to-face support across the country.

Almost two thirds of older people (65 per cent) have not made provisions for their funeral, according to Age Scotland's research for its Money Matters project last year. Only around a third (37 per cent) have made a will.

An estimated 170,000 older Scottish people are already living in poverty.

An average funeral in Scotland costs £3550, with burial costs alone costing an average £1273 and cremation £671, although there is wide variation among local authorities (according to Citizens Advice Scotland (2016))

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s Chief Executive, said: “This benefit will be welcome news for the thousands of people in Scotland who struggle to pay for a funeral for their loved ones. “Far too many older Scots are pushed into poverty following a bereavement, causing a huge amount of stress at an already distressing time.

"We hear from people who are suffering financial hardship who feel forced to take on extra debt just to give their family member a decent send-off.

“This new payment will help many more people meet the growing burden of funeral costs. We hope that it will also streamline the application process, removing intrusive questions that many applicants found upsetting. It’s also good news that it will increase each year in line with inflation.

“However, there’s still a considerable gap between the average payment and actual cost of a funeral. We’d like to see this reviewed in future years to help people avoid getting into debt paying for a modest, yet respectful, funeral for their loved one.”

Anyone looking for help with end-of-life planning, wills, Power of Attorney, or other issues can call Age Scotland’s free helpline on 0800 12 44 222. 

For more information

Contact the Age Scotland Media team

Telephone: 0131 668 0364 / 07801 500 663 / communications@agescotland.org.uk

Age Scotland provides a seven day a week response service to media enquiries through a dedicated telephone line and email.

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