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Help with funeral costs

Tim Duncan - Senior Controls Executive.

Tim Duncan

Senior Controls Executive

Last updated 10th September 2020

6 min read

If you need help with funeral costs, you may be able to get financial assistance from the government, charities and other options.

What if I can’t afford funeral costs?

Funeral costs can easily stack up. Whilst it is possible to reduce them by opting for a cheaper service and other alternatives, you might still need help to pay for a funeral.

If you’d like to give your loved one a funeral but are looking for financial assistance, there are a few options that may be available.


Can you get help with funeral costs from the government?

The government could help pay towards funeral costs. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) help with funeral costs with two schemes: the Funeral Expenses Payment and the Bereavement Support Payment.

It’s unlikely either of these will cover everything, but they can soften the financial blow.

Funeral Expenses Payments

The Funeral Expenses Payment is one-off means-tested payment intended to support people on certain benefits that may be used to pay for:

  • Burial or cremation fees, including doctor’s certificate
  • Travel to arrange or go to the funeral
  • The cost of moving the body within the UK (if over 50 miles)
  • Death certificate or other documents

It’s also possible to secure a further £700 payment for additional funeral costs, such as a coffin, flowers or funeral director’s fees.

To apply for Funeral Expenses Payments you need to be a close relative, partner or parent of the person who has died and receive at least one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s or Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension, Child Tax or Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credits related to disabilities

The application for a Funeral Expenses Payment can be made over the phone or by post, and must be made within six months of the funeral.

If it is later established that the deceased’s Estate could have covered funeral costs, you will be asked to pay back the money.

If you live in Scotland the process may differ.

Bereavement Support Payment

The Bereavement Support Payment is a one-off payment of £2,500 or £3,500, followed by 18 monthly payments of £100 or £350.

It is available to a spouse or civil partner of the person who has died.

To apply you must be under the state pension age and your spouse or partner must have paid 25 weeks of National Insurance contributions or died in a work-related disease or accident.

A claim must be made within three months of the funeral by completing a Bereavement Support Payment pack. You can still claim up to 21 months after the death, however any payments will be less.

Budgeting loan

A budgeting loan is a small, interest free sum to help pay for a variety of needs including funeral costs.

You might be eligible for a budgeting loan if you are on qualifying benefits such as:

  • Income support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit

You must have been on these benefits for at least 6 months.

The loan is up to:

  • £348 if you’re single
  • £464 if you have a partner
  • £812 if you or your partner claim Child Benefit

It also depends on if you are able to repay it, your savings, and if you’re already paying off a loan.

You can apply online or by post.

Council funeral

If you can’t afford the cost of a funeral, your local council can arrange a ‘pauper’s’ funeral also known as a Public Health Funeral.

Thousands of these are carried out each year for those who have passed away and are unclaimed by relatives or died alone.

The funeral will be very basic and will include a coffin and the services of a funeral director. The funeral will either be a burial or cremation depending on the local authority.

These funerals will not include flowers or transport or viewings etc, and cannot be attended.

Charities that can help with funerals

There are lots of different charities that can offer financial and emotional support in the aftermath of losing a loved one.

Many charities, like Cruse Bereavement Care or The Bereavement Trust, can help with the emotional side of loss and grief.

For a charity that can offer financial help with funeral costs, the below could offer some support.

Charis Grants is a trust that tries to help people who are in debt, pay their bills.

Depending on how the deceased died, there may be specific charities who can help. Marie Curie or Leukaemia Care are two examples of organisations that help under specific circumstances.

Friends of the Elderly can help to contribute towards funerals for elderly people with no family or little to no savings.

Care Workers Charity contributes towards funeral costs for those who have worked in the care profession.

If a child has died, charities like React, or Child Funeral Charity, may offer grants to help cover expenses.

Your location and nationality may also make you eligible for grants. Ask your local council about any schemes in the area.

Other ways to get help

Social media can be a great place to garner some assistance, for example Crowdfunding sites can be a way of charity fundraising for a loved one’s funeral.

It may not be the most conventional route but asking for donations can be an effective solution for those struggling financially to cover the costs of a funeral.

Help with funeral costs from a funeral director

Remember to speak to your chosen funeral director about possible options. Normally a funeral director will require at least a deposit up front, if not the whole sum.

But they might be able to agree a repayment plan to make the funeral costs more manageable and ensure you aren’t hit for everything in one lump sum.

Also, don’t forget to check if the funeral director accepts government benefits or works directly with any charities who might be able to help you.

A funeral director should also be able to advise you on which parts of a funeral could be omitted to try to help cut costs.

Other options

Banks may consider settling the funeral bill from a late customer’s account, if funds are available.

To do this you’ll usually need the help of the Executor or Administrator of the Estate. In most cases, they will need to secure a Grant of Probate to access any bank account(s).

However, it could take time for you to receive your payment, as they have to address all outstanding debts such as a mortgage.

The bank or building society could pay funeral costs directly

If you can provide a death certificate, proof of your identity and an invoice for the funeral costs; your loved one’s bank or building society could agree to pay the funeral service provider directly.

This can be a quicker way of covering funeral costs than working through the Executor or Administrator of Estate.

Get insurance to cover costs

There are insurance policies with payouts that can be used towards the cost of a funeral.

A Guaranteed Funeral Plan is an insurance policy which guarantees to pay for your chosen funeral services so that your loved ones don’t have to.

An over 50 life insurance policy allows you to leave a guaranteed lump sum to your loved ones when you die. This can be put towards the costs of a funeral, or whatever might help most in their time of need.

Dealing with loss is never easy, the added pressure of dealing with funeral costs can make it intolerable.

For more information on funeral planning read our comprehensive funeral planning guide. And if you’d like further advice on how you can take care of funeral costs so your loved ones don’t have to, speak with our team today.

Source: Cost of Dying report 2020

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife and who provides the SunLife Guaranteed Over 50 Plans?

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services , registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG, United Kingdom (registered in England and Wales, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the SunLife Guaranteed Over 50 Plan life insurance policies. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG, United Kingdom (registered in England and Wales, no. 1016269).

Who provides the Funeral Benefit Option?

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.