People are often overwhelmed in the first few days of bereavement, so take your time and think about your options.
Help with funeral costs can come from a variety of sources. Use the options below to help you calculate the money available to you.
Guide contents (jump to section)
- Government help with funeral costs
- Money from the deceased person’s estate
- Down to Earth funeral costs helpline
- Bereavement support payment
- Charitable grants
- Crowdfunding towards funeral costs
- Reducing funeral costs
- Public health funerals and hospital funerals
The Funeral Expenses Payment is a government grant towards the cost of a funeral from the Department of Work and Pensions.
To be eligible you must first of all be responsible for the funeral costs and in receipt of qualifying benefits.
The average funeral payment covers about 41% of the average cost of a simple funeral.
The DWP look at two things in deciding whether to issue a funeral payment:
The applicant’s benefits and very possibly the benefits of some of the deceased’s family
- Whether they consider the applicant to have had the closest contact with the deceased
The applicant also usually needs to be named on the funeral bill; if not it will need to be explained why.
What benefits are required?
You or your partner need to be in receipt of one of the following income-related benefits:
- Universal Credit
- Income Support
- Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Working Tax Credit which includes a disability or severe disability element
- Child Tax Credit
If your financial circumstances were connected to the person who has died, your benefits may have been affected and you may need to make a new application first - call the DWP Bereavement Service on 0800 731 0469, or your council if it is an application for housing benefit.
Closeness of contact
If the person who died was living with a partner, the DWP will only consider an application from that partner and it is only their benefits that are taken into account.
If they didn’t live with a partner the DWP will need information about other family members. However, there are some instances when they should ignore a family member’s benefit status. This includes if they were estranged from the deceased (the relationship had broken down) or if they are under 18. The other categories and more guidance can be found in the DWP notes.
However, any ‘immediate family members’ (i.e. parent or adult child of the deceased) who don’t fall into one of the above categories must also be on a qualifying benefit, no matter who applies. So must any ‘close relatives’ (e.g. adult brothers and sisters, including half and step) who were at least as close to the deceased as the person applying.
Reasonable to take responsibility?
After a live-in partner, the DWP expect the person who had the closest contact with the deceased to apply. They categorise family members in the following way:
- Immediate family members (i.e. parent or adult child)
- Close relatives (e.g. brothers and sisters, including half and step)
- Other family (e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins), partners/spouses who weren’t living together and friends
However, they also expect the applicant to be the person who had the closest contact with the deceased. So it is possible for someone in a lower category to be the most ‘reasonable’ person to apply. In deciding who is closest they look at how often the applicant, and other family members, were in contact with the deceased and in what way.
What it covers, amounts and deductions
The main costs the Funeral Expenses Payment contributes towards are as follows:
- Reasonable burial or cremation fees
- Doctors’ fees
- Up to £1,000 toward other funeral expenses (generally those covered under funeral director’s fees, or if you are going DIY, costs such as the coffin)
- Death certificates to release money belonging to the person who died
- One return journey to arrange or attend the funeral, not including the cost of a funeral car
- In some circumstances, transport costs if you need to move the person who died over 50 miles
If the deceased had some money in their estate, e.g. in a bank account or insurance policy, this will be deducted from any award paid out.
How to claim
In England and Wales, you can download an SF200 form to apply or complete an application by phoning the DWP Bereavement Service Helpline on 0800 731 0469.
In Northern Ireland you can download the form online or contact the Bereavement Service on 0800 085 2463.
The DWP aim to process Funeral Expenses Payments within 13 working days, though in practice it can take longer.
Funeral Support Payment (Scotland)
Learn about applying for the Funeral Support Payment in Scotland on our factsheet.
When somebody dies, the money and assets they leave behind are called their estate. Their accounts may be frozen but during this time the bank, building society, or Post Office can still issue a payment to contribute to the funeral bill. You should pay the funeral bill before other debts and bills such as rent, electricity or council tax are paid.
As well as checking if the person who died had any money in bank accounts, savings or property, check if they had any of the following:
- Pre-paid funeral plan
- Insurance policy
- Occupational pension scheme
- Burial or cremation club
- Death in service benefit (if they were employed at the time of death)
Our funeral costs helpline is staffed by an expert team who can offer you free and confidential advice about help with funeral costs anywhere in the UK.
Our experienced advisors have supported thousands of people across the UK to plan, reduce costs, identify ways to raise money, and get the right government support.
If it is your partner who has died and you are below state pension age, then you may be eligible for the Bereavement Support Payment. Eligibility varies depending on whether you were married/civil partnered or living together as if you were:
- Bereavement Support Payment (England, Wales and Scotland)
- Bereavement Support Payment (Northern Ireland)
Some charities, particularly those linked to trades and professions can offer help with funeral costs for people facing financial difficulty. They rarely pay for everything and many prefer to make an award after any government support has been received.
You can ask someone like a support worker, social worker or Citizen’s Advice adviser for guidance on charities to approach and for help making an application, or you can complete the Turn2Us online grants search.
Under the ‘Search for a grant’ section, you can enter details about your past work and employment. You’ll then get a list of charities to which you may be able to apply for help. Have a look at each one and check the eligibility criteria.
If you struggle with the search you can call their helpline: 0808 802 2000.
Online donations from family, friends and even strangers who just want to help can reduce funeral debt. Crowdfunding is used to raise money for all kinds of reasons, including funeral costs. It involves creating an online page where people can donate to a particular cause. You would need to choose a website – there are lots out there, but some popular examples are:
Check if the website will still pay you the donations even if you don’t reach your target and if the website charges any fees e.g. a % of each donation. State the amount you still need to raise and write something explaining the difficulties you are facing and something about the person who has died. You will need to tell people about the page – using social media can be a good way to spread the word to lots of people quickly.
There are various ways you can keep funeral costs down. We've put together some essential guidance for anyone planning a funeral now or in the near future.
If are unable to make the funeral arrangements due to lack of funds, or you are unwilling to do so, the council where the person died has a legal duty to carry out a burial or cremation.
If someone died in hospital, they will sometimes do this instead of the council, using the NHS budget, but they have no obligation to, so this differs around the country.
Councils have limited budgets so they are likely to check that there is nobody who can pay and ask if you have tried other sources first. However, even if you are able to get a government funeral payment, if you are unable to pay the shortfall from that then the council should still consider a public health funeral. If no one is making arrangements they are legally required to do so.
Each council or hospital will have their own policy on what they deem to be an appropriate funeral. Many will carry out a cremation and most will provide a short service, often early in the day. However, it does vary across the UK. Bear in mind that some councils and hospitals unfortunately prevent the family from attending or receiving ashes back.
In England, Northern Ireland and Wales councils must not cremate someone where there is "reason to believe that cremation would be contrary to the wishes of the deceased". In Scotland, they must "have regard to any wishes that the person expressed" regarding whether they wanted to be buried or cremated.
You can find out more details of how a public health or hospital funeral is carried out in your area by contacting the coroner, if they have been involved, or calling your council or hospital direct.