Local authorities spent £4m on public health funerals in 2015/16 - an increase of 36% over the past five years - new research has revealed.
An investigation by Royal London found the number of public health funerals has increased by 12% over the last five years as families struggle to meet rising costs.
The National Funeral Cost Index shows there were 3,784 public health funerals across the UK in the financial year 2015/16, with the East of England experience the biggest increase.
Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert at Royal London, said: 'It is always upsetting when the deceased has no family to arrange a funeral, or when their family simply cannot afford one.
'In these cases, local councils take on the responsibility of paying for a funeral and it’s evident that councils are facing increasing pressure to accommodate the rising number of public health funerals in the UK.
'With one in six people struggling to pay for funeral costs, urgent action is needed by the Government to tackle rising funeral poverty.'
The data also shows the cost of public health funerals varied regionally across the UK. West Midlands had the highest cost, with more than £900,000 being spent on funerals in 2015/16.