Sunday, 10 June 2012
SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP has called for
a review of the eligibility rules and adequacy of social fund funeral
expense payments after figures revealed an 18% drop in the number of
applicants receiving an award in Scotland over five years, with the
funds received falling far short of requirements for a basic funeral.
Figures released in response to parliamentary questions from Dr Whiteford show the average amount awarded in Scotland in 2011-12 was £1,500 pounds, far short of the average funeral cost, estimated at £2,648 in 2010.
The percentage of applicants receiving an award has fallen from 66% in 2007 to 49% in 2011-12.
Dr Whiteford said:
“Having to arrange a funeral is difficult enough for anyone, but when you’re on a low income the financial burden makes it even more stressful.
“Help with funeral expenses can be a crucial support for bereaved families, so it’s important to ensure everyone who is entitled to funding receives the help they need.
“In these times of UK austerity, it’s a worry that less than half of applicants for funeral payments receive the award. This is a cost that many relatives cannot plan for, and the rising costs of funerals hits the poor the hardest.
“Even for those who receive the social fund payment, the funding received falls short of what is required for even a basic funeral.
“A survey from the National Association of Funeral Directors found funeral costs leapt by almost 50% between 2007 and 2010, while the funding available from the social fund for expenses like funeral director’s fees and the cost of a coffin has been capped at £700 since 2003.
“Social fund funeral payments are an important safety net for people who have no means to save for funerals – at such a stressful time in people’s lives, it’s important we get this right.”
Notes: Figures on the average amount awarded for funeral payment over the past five years in Scotland, and the number of applications received,
Average amount awarded for funeral payment over past five years in Scotland
Applications Awards Average award (£) 2007-08 8,700 5,700 1,200 2008-09 8,600 5,400 1,200 2009-10 8,400 5,200 1,200 2010-11 8,300 4,600 1,300 2011-12 8,500 4,200 1,500
Funeral payment applications and awards over the past five years in Scotland Proportion of applications which received an award
Applications Awards 2007-08 8,700 5,700 65.52% 2008-09 8,600 5,400 62.79% 2009-10 8,400 5,200 61.90% 2010-11 8,300 4,600 55.42% 2011-12 8,500 4,200 49.41%