Families forced to put funerals on hold as they struggle to pay

BODIES are going unburied and ashes are being withheld from families because of failures in Government help for funeral costs, according to MPs.

Frank Field MP chairs the Work and Pensions Select Committee

Their inquiry found that bereaved relatives without the money to pay for a funeral have to fill out a 23-page form to get help which is limited at £700, a sum which has not changed in more than a decade.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee criticised the denial of state help to bereaved children whose parents are not married.

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It is also passing on evidence to the Competition and Markets Authority which MPs suggest shows the funeral market is not working properly because many bereaved families do not shop around between different providers.

Industry figures show the cost of funerals over the last year has risen by almost four per cent despite near-zero inflation.

The committee was told some families had kept relatives’ bodies in storage until they could pay for a funeral while others had not received the ashes of relatives until they settled their bill.

Committee chairman Frank Field said: “We urge the Government to conduct a cross-Departmental review of burials, cremations and funerals, with outcomes that will address the factors driving up funeral director fees and work to reduce funeral poverty.”