Yorkshire family of RAF veteran petition Parliament over ‘unfair death tax’

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A hidden “death tax” is an unfair assault on the bereaved, a Yorkshire family has said, as they petition Parliament over a surcharge to bury their decorated RAF veteran father.

The family of Hugh Payne, honoured by the Pope for his time in service, had wanted him to be buried near to his wife in Lancashire, where he lived for more than 40 years.

But, because he died in Yorkshire where he has been living to be close to his family, they were told they had to pay a hefty increased rate to bury him back home.

They have refused many offers of funds from well-wishers to pay for the funeral.

“Nobody, in their worst hour, when they have gone through a bureavement, should have to be arguing about money,” said Mr Payne’s daughter-in-law, Sue Payne. “All they want is for the arrangements to be taken away.

“With an ageing population and a care crisis, more and more people are getting dementia and becoming increasingly reliant on families.

“Yet they are unaware they are going to have to pay for it. It’s an indirect death tax and we just don’t think it’s fair.”

Mr Payne, who served in the RAF in the same regiment as Prince William, had been awarded several medals for his work in Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong. He was even honoured by the Pope.

Described as a “charmer” by his son Alan Payne, from Gomersal, he was brought to Yorkshire in 2015 after being diagnosed with dementia and becoming increasingly frail.

Having looked at all the options, his family felt it was most important that he be close to them and he went to live at the Hopton Cottage Care Home in Mirfield.

But over time he became increasingly frail. In and out of hospital, suffering from infections and then pneumonia, his family were warned over Christmas to expect the worse. He died on Sunday night.

His family had always known his wishes were to be buried in the cemetery in Fylde where his wife’s ashes were, and in the place he called home for most of his life.

But on contacting the authorities, they were told Mr Payne would now be classed as a non-resident, having been in Yorkshire for 15 months.

The resulting cost would be up to 50 per cent more than had he stayed at home.

The Payne family has argued strongly against this, taking it straight to Fylde Council CEO who has now agreed that Mr Payne should be classed as a resident.