QSA has submitted a representation to the government for the 2018 Autumn Budget.
Our submission focused on funeral poverty and the recommendations for tackling it arising from our Fair Funerals campaign.
Informed by the detailed casework which QSA carries out through its longstanding Down to Earth project, and by wider research carried out as part of Fair Funerals, we have made the following recommendations to government:
- The Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment (SFFP) be increased to cover basic funeral costs. We’re calling for the amount of money available for funeral expenses within the funeral fund to be raised in line with funeral cost inflation in recent years, and then to be increased annually in line with the retail price index
- A government plan be developed to tackle funeral poverty. Funeral poverty is a multi-faceted problem which spans different government departments; a government inquiry should be undertaken involving the relevant departments and recommendations made for improving the situation of people on low incomes arranging a funeral
- A third party advocate scheme be introduced that could quickly determine people’s eligibility for the SFFP and other state and charitable grants and help them find a funeral that meets their needs at a reasonable price
- A senior decision maker be appointed who can re-consider cases where an applicant for the SFFP has been turned down but their case involves exceptional levels of vulnerability and need
- The eligibility criteria for government budgeting loans for funeral costs be brought in line with eligibility for SFFP so that more people struggling with funeral costs are able to access this interest-free form of financial support
- The decision-making process for budgeting loans be sped up so that loans can be received in a timely fashion given that most funeral directors require a deposit before the funeral and full payment within 28 days after the funeral.
Although the Fair Funerals campaign concluded in the summer, QSA will continue taking opportunities to ‘speak truth to power’ about the issue of funeral poverty in order to build on the breakthroughs and momentum achieved to date.