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11 April 2016, 06:00
A student from East Grinstead has exclusively told Heart she had to crowdfund for her father’s funeral, because the costs were too high.
Hanna Head was not eligible to receive government support when her father died of complications relating to alcoholism. As an only child and in a single-parent family, at 20 years-old Hanna was responsible for arranging the funeral on her own.
Listen as Hanna tells her story:
The average cost of a funeral in the South East of England in 2015 was £3,654 an increase of 3.4% from 2014 according to a report by Royal London. Their findings suggest funeral director fees are increasing year on year and that local authorities and private crematoria are increasing their prices.
Vice President of the National Association of Funeral Directors Jeremy Field tells Heart what is behind the fees:
Though it is not a legal requirement to hold a funeral for someone who has died, Hanna told Heart she wanted to give her father a ceremony and felt she had no other way to pay for it.
As she was not on any of the required benefits she was not able to receive any Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payments and therefore had to raise money another way.
For those who are able to access the funds, the cremation or burial costs are met in full. However the maximum award for other funeral costs including for a coffin, church and funeral directors have been fixed at £700 since 2003. This in most areas does not cover the cost of a simple funeral as funeral director fees are rising well above the rate of inflation.
A new report published by the Work and Pensions select committee has criticised current state bereavement support as "opaque and outdated”. They’ve also warned that “the funeral industry may not be operating in a way that serves bereaved, vulnerable people well”.
Listen as Simon Cox a funeral expert from Royal London tells Heart the system is not good enough:
Yet to respond in full to the select committee report, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We are modernising bereavement benefits, introducing a simpler and fairer scheme that will better assist people in what can be an extremely difficult time.”