Quaker Social Action (QSA) has raised an issue that I haven’t properly thought about – funeral poverty. QSA has recruited the UK’s first Funeral Poverty officer to raise awareness and encourage action on the growing crisis surrounding the cost of dying.
According to QSA, one in five of us now struggle to pay for a funeral, costs having increased by 80% since 2004, to an average costs of £3,456 (and much higher in cities such as London). There is an increasing number of people who find it impossible to pay for an appropriate send-off for a family member or loved one. QSA have said that “Planning and putting something aside to pay for a funeral is unrealistic for people already struggling to pay, week by week, for heat and food. The cost of a funeral can threaten to tip people in this situation into unmanageable debt, and in the worst cases, homelessness.”
QSA is encouraging a conversation so that we all get better at discussing, confronting and planning for death, both our own and that of family members. They say that “For too many of us funeral costs come as an unwelcome shock at a time of emotional turmoil…. Some people on very low incomes can apply for state support to help cover the cost of a funeral. But the amount they can apply for has been eroded and will usually only cover about 35% of the overall cost of a simple funeral.
Making a claim can be a lengthy and complex process, which can leave people confused and frustrated at an already stressful and disorientating time.”
I’ve signed up to support their campaign and you can do so by visiting their website.