Financial Support for Funeral Costs
Funerals are surprisingly expensive. Even if you manage to reduce the cost by planning your budget with your funeral director, sometimes the amount is beyond your capacity. Don’t feel bad about this. This situation is fairly common, in particular when the bereavement was at short notice. Below, we provide some useful information around financial assistance for funeral costs.
What Happens If You Can’t Afford A Funeral?
If you do not have the money, the local council or hospital can arrange a Public Health Funeral if:
- There isn’t enough money in the estate to pay for it
- There are no relatives or friends available to arrange the funeral
In circumstances like this, the funeral will usually be a cremation. Keep in mind, although you will be able to attend the funeral, the local authority will decide the time and date. More so, there normally is a short service, and if you want extras, like flowers or transport, you will need to provide this.
Can a Funeral Director Help With Funeral Costs?
Yes, but not all of them, so ask first. Call the funeral director you are planning to hire for the service, and ask them if they accept government benefits or if they work with any charities that might be able to help. Paying the funeral off over time is sometimes an option, so check if this service is available. Don’t feel pressured to sign up to a financing plan, even if it is interest-free. You have time to decide these things. You are making some big decisions.
Yes, there are currently two main ways to get help with funeral costs from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions):
- The Funeral Expenses Payment
- Bereavement Support Payment
Below, we provide an overview of who can apply for these schemes and how much they can contribute towards funeral costs.
Funeral Expenses Payment
The Funeral Expenses Payment (often referred to as Funeral Payment) is available for people on certain benefits who need help with funeral costs. Although the payment won’t cover the entire costs of the funeral, it will provide substantial help.
What You Are Entitled To:
Funeral Expenses Payment can help you pay for some of the costs related to the following:
- Burial fees for a particular plot
- Cremation fees, including the cost of the doctor’s certificate
- Travel to arrange or go to the funeral
- The cost of moving the body within the UK, if it’s being moved more than 50 miles
- Death certificates or other documents
You can also get up to £700 for any other funeral expenses, such as funeral director’s fees, flowers or the coffin.
The total amount will depend on your circumstances. This includes any other money that’s available to cover the costs, for example from an insurance policy or the deceased person’s estate.
If the deceased had a pre-paid funeral plan, you can only get up to £120 to help pay for items not covered by their plan.
Please visit their website, or call the Bereavement Service helpline to get 100% clarity on the matter. But in general, to get Funeral Expenses Payment you must:
- Get certain benefits or tax credits
- Meet the rules on your relationship with the deceased
- Be arranging a funeral in the UK, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
Making a Claim:
You must apply within 6 months of the funeral, even if you’re waiting for a decision on a qualifying benefit.
You can make a claim before the funeral if you have an invoice from the funeral director. You can’t make a claim if you only have an estimate.
There’s a different way to claim if you live in Northern Ireland.
How to Claim:
Claim by phone by calling the Bereavement Service helpline.
Bereavement Service Helpline
- Telephone: 0800 731 0469
- Welsh Language: 0800 731 0453
- Textphone: 0800 731 0464
- Welsh Language: 0800 731 0456
- Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6pm
An adviser will also help you claim any other bereavement benefits you might be entitled to. To claim by post, download and fill in the claim form, and send it to the address on the form.
The Bereavement Support Payment
The Bereavement Support Payment is a one-off, tax-free payment given to the spouse or civil partner of someone who has died.
You may be able to get Bereavement Support Payment if your husband, wife or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017.
You could be eligible if your partner either:
- Paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks
- Died because of an accident at work or a disease caused by work
When they died, you must have been:
- Under State Pension age
- Living in the UK or a country that pays bereavement benefits
You can’t claim Bereavement Support Payment if you’re in prison.
If Your Husband, Wife or Civil Partner Died Before 6 April 2017
You may be able to get one or more of the following:
- Bereavement Payment (a one-off payment)
- Bereavement Allowance (monthly payments)
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance (if you’re bringing up children)
What You’ll Get:
You’ll get a first payment and then up to 18 monthly payments. There are 2 rates.
If you receive Child Benefit (or if you don’t get it but are entitled to it), you are entitled to the higher rate. If you don’t get Child Benefit, you’ll get the lower rate unless you were pregnant when your husband, wife or civil partner died.
You must file the claim within 3 months of your husband, wife or civil partner’s death to get the full amount. You can claim up to 21 months after but your payments will be lower. Your payments will be paid into your bank or building society account.
If You Get Benefits:
Bereavement Support Payment won’t affect your benefits for a year after your first payment. After a year, any payment you have left over could affect the amount of benefit you’re eligible for. You must tell your benefits office (for example, your local Jobcentre Plus) when you start receiving Bereavement Support Payment.
How to Claim:
How you apply depends on where you are.
- If you’re in England, Scotland or Wales you can apply using a form or by phone. Download a Bereavement Support Payment pack (form BSP1) or order it over the phone from your local Jobcentre Plus. Take the completed form to your local Jobcentre Plus or send it to the address below or call bereavement service helpline on 0800 731 0469
Bereavement Support Payment
Mail Handling Site A
- If you’re in Northern Ireland – There’s a different process in Northern Ireland.
- If you’re abroad, you can apply by phone.
International Pension Centre
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 218 7608
Monday to Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM
Find out about call charges
Charities That Help With Funeral Costs
A number of charitable organisations offer financial help with funeral expenses. Your best bet will be a charity that works specifically with people in your situation.Turn2Us grant search tool can help you find an organisation that might help you based on the criteria above. Click here to start a search.
Charities that help with funeral expenses will usually ask for thorough evidence of your financial situation, and may need to see evidence that you’ve already tried to source the money elsewhere before they release funds.