Down to Earth co-manager Lindesay Mace has authored a report on funeral poverty for submission to the United Nations. The submission details funeral price rises in the UK, inadequate and inequitable funeral and bereavement payments, and the lack of regulation in the funeral sector. It highlights the impact of these issues on people’s standard of living, taking money away from basic needs such as food, rent and bills. It also raises the long-term impact on physical and mental health, such as when people experience prolonged grief after going into debt and arrears to cover funeral expenses.
The UK is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which requires governments to ensure adequate and accessible social security, an adequate standard of living and the highest standard of health. In March 2023, the UN’s committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will draw up a list of questions to ask the UK Government about how well it is putting ICESCR rights into practice. “The human rights of hundreds, if not thousands, of bereaved people in the UK are being breached,” says Lindesay. “We hope that with this report, the UN will include funeral poverty on its list of questions to ask the UK Government.”