PAUPER's burials could soon make a comeback, as more than
100,000 people will struggle to pay funeral costs this year alone,
a study suggests.
Research by the University of Bath's Institute for Policy
Research found that a small but growing number of families are
turning to taxpayer-funded "public-health funerals" when they are
unwilling or unable to pay for the funeral themselves.
The cost of a funeral - burial or cremation, and state
administration - has risen by 7.1 per cent in the past year to
£7622, including estate- administration costs, and extras such as
food and flowers. This constitutes an 80-per-cent rise in the cost
of dying since 2004.
The study predicts that there will be a sharp increase in the
number of families relying on this kind of funeral as the ageing
population in the UK causes the death rate to increase.
A survey by the Local Government Association found that about
2900 such funerals were carried out in 2011. Local councils have a
duty to dispose of bodies under public-health law, and, typically,
a simple service is followed by a cremation or burial in a communal
grave. The body is often transported in a van rather than a
Dr Kate Woodthorpe, from Bath University's Centre for Death and
Society, said that the stigma association with a "pauper's funeral"
is changing as families have no other alternatives.
"The system was never intended to be a 'choice': it was intended
to be the ultimate backstop - a body needing to be disposed of,
which has to happen, because someone has to take responsibility for
She said that the concern for funeral directors and for the
Government is that the number of people who are unwilling to pay
for a funeral rather than unable may grow.
The chief executive of the International Longevity Centre-UK,
Baroness Greengross, said that the Government needed to give people
more help. "With growing funeral costs, quite simply, growing
numbers of people might find they can't afford to die," she