Much has been made of the £10 million cost of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral.
However, as the country’s longest-serving peacetime Prime Minister in modern times, it was an appropriate mark of respect and successive Governments were right to set aside the money to fund it, no matter how difficult our economic circumstances.
However I find it difficult to understand how the same successive Governments can fail to find similar resources to enable the poorest in our society to bid even a modest farewell to their loved ones?
Funeral poverty is a major challenge facing an increasing number of people. The average cost of a funeral is in excess of £3,000 and as living costs rise and budgets are squeezed, costs of funerals are increasing too.
Yet the Government’s Social Fund Funeral Payment, which is designed to help the poorest in society meet the costs of a funeral, has been capped at £700 plus disbursements since 2004.
Over 38,000 people were successful in receiving this assistance in 2012 – but a similar number of applications were turned down.
Even those who are successful end up with an average shortfall of around £1,300 against the full cost of the funeral.