The National Association of Funeral Directors to spearhead campaign to index-link Social Fund funeral payments: the first step to fairness
- More than half of those who apply for a Funeral Payment each year are turned down
- Cap on “other funeral expenses” has remained at £700 since 2003 and a recent study shows the average
shortfall is now £1,500 – with families often either failing to pay or turning to payday lenders
Today (Friday 16th May) funeral directors from across the UK will converge upon Manchester for their national conference.
The National Association of Funeral Directors represents almost 3,900 funeral homes across the country. One of the key agenda items for the NAFD’s members will be concerns over the growing problem of funeral poverty due to the failure of the Social Fund to pay for a simple funeral. This is increasingly driving bereaved families into the arms of payday lenders.
The Social Fund funeral payment for “other funeral expenses” has been capped at £700 since April 2003. During the conference, the NAFD will announce that they are to spearhead a campaign to get the cap index-linked as a first step to addressing funeral poverty. Further reforms will then be needed to tackle the significant shortfall that exists to pay for a simple funeral and improve the processing of social fund applications that are often subject to considerable delays and a lack of transparency.
The Conference will also hear that following a meeting with Paul Maynard MP, the NAFD will work with organisations concerned with funeral poverty to obtain their support for the index link campaign. Mr Maynard will then meet with Iain Duncan Smith MP, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to outline this support and the calls for reform.
Alan Slater, Chief Executive of the National Association of Funeral Directors, will say in his keynote address:
“More than 80% of NAFD members have never turned down a funeral, even when they have known that the family are not able to pay. They take a risk on being left in debt as the funeral will have already taken place before they know if a Social Fund funeral payment has been granted.
“We recognise that the Government has a significant number of calls upon its budget, but funeral poverty needs to be addressed. As a first step, we are calling for the £700 cap on “other funeral expenses” to be index-linked to inflation. We would also like to see greater transparency on how the Social Fund budget is being spent and why it takes so long to process applications. In Northern Ireland, their equivalent scheme operates within a matter of days whereas the average gap between an application in England and Wales and the decision is in excess of 21 days.
“We are delighted to be working with Paul Maynard MP who has a real interest in and understanding on this issue. We value his offer to take the support we gather for our campaign directly to the Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith MP.”