Councils are spending more than £6m a year on paying for public funerals, according to new research.
A freedom of information request by Royal London found councils spent £6.3m on more than 4,000 public health funerals in 2018/19. Nearly a third of the funerals were undertaken by the council has the bereaved families were unable to afford the cost.
Royal London is calling for standard legislation on public health funerals after the research also showed 21 councils do not return ashes to the family by default, with 18 councils charging families for the ashes to be returned.
Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert at Royal London, said: ‘It’s incredibly sad when bereaved families have no choice but to seek a public health funeral. But when some families are refused the ashes of their loved ones or are not even allowed to attend the funeral, it is clear that they are being treated unfairly.
’It’s about time the system was overhauled, and we’re calling for legislation on minimum standards for public health funerals to ensure everyone can, at the very least, attend a funeral and collect their loved one’s ashes.’