The launch of an improved funeral benefit will provide vital support for over 100 less well-off families a year across East Renfrewshire.
D Moodie & Co Funeral Directors, which has been serving the Barrhead community for generations, welcomes the launch of the new Funeral Support Payment but stresses the need for bereaved families to compare like-for-like costs at funeral providers.
Funeral costs vary widely, with an average East Renfrewshire cremation costing over £3,000 while burial in the authority averages £4,000. Families can keep costs down as watchdogs say charges at independent firms are generally ‘significantly lower than some of the large national chains of funeral directors’.
The Funeral Support Payment replaces the current Funeral Expense Payment for people living in Scotland, with the Scottish Government estimating a 40 increase in uptake under the new system compared to the DWP.
Barrhead families can apply over the phone, by post, or online for the first time. Once the Scottish Government’s new benefits delivery agency, Social Security Scotland, is fully operational, face-to-face support will be available across the country. Consultation on the previous system identified parts of the process that applicants found difficult or distressing.
Welcoming the launch of the new scheme, Barrhead-based funeral director Robert Paton said: “Across East Renfrewshire, poverty is forcing the hand of families, stripping them of choice and, often, a sense of dignity. With increased eligibility and simplified application process, the new Funeral Support Payment will offer more families access to financial support than ever before”.
“Every human being deserves a dignified, respectful send-off, and all bereaved families need appropriate closure and time to grieve. It’s my hope that the new, devolved benefits system will give families that sense of dignity at their time of need.”
D Moodie & Co Funeral Directors works in partnership with funeral plan provider Golden Charter, which supported the consultation on the new scheme and welcomes the introduction of the new benefit.
Gordon Swan, Golden Charter’s Director of Communications, said: “Funeral poverty remains a major issue and the Funeral Support Payment will ensure that more Scots who qualify can receive financial help at a time when money should not be their biggest concern.
“Just as importantly the new system has been designed to make the application process simpler and clearer. Independent funeral directors have supported the launch and are committed to keeping costs down while delivering the personal service that families value.”
Currently, the UK Funeral Expense Payment, administered by the Department of Work and Pensions, helps around 4,000 low-income Scots are each year. The Scottish Government has invested an additional £2 million in the newly devolved benefit, bringing total investment up to an estimated £6 million in its first year of operation.
The Scottish Government has also indicated that the majority of applicants will receive the full £700 ‘flat rate’ element of the Funeral Support Payment, which it has pledged to increase with the rate of inflation each year.
Information on eligibility and how to apply is available at mygov.scot/benefits.