A 10-point plan to help people struggling with debt to manage funeral costs has been set out by Equalities Secretary Angela Constance MSP.
The Funeral Costs Plan commits to a range of actions to improve the support available. A leaflet has also been published to help people with practical new guidance on how to make their wishes clear and encourages conversations with family and friends to reduce stress and keep costs down when the time comes.
Ms Constance said:
“The death of a loved one is an incredibly difficult time for anyone. It can be even harder when money is tight. We know funeral costs can add to the distress of people already in financial hardship who face increased difficulties.
“That is why we are taking decisive action to tackle this growing issue and have engaged with local authorities, the funeral sector and other support services. I am pleased by the willingness to work together to find solutions that support more affordable funerals."
Added Kenneth Gibson:
“The SNP Government is committed to supporting those who need it most following a bereavement, which is why it will introduce a new benefit on the form of Funeral Expense Assistance from summer 2019."
The Funeral Costs Plan:
http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/08/6243 commits to 10 actions:
Launch a new Funeral Expense Assistance benefit, by summer 2019
Publish guidance on funeral costs, by December 2018
Improve advice on funeral planning, help following a bereavement and support after a funeral
Publish funeral planning guidance to help people think about and record plans for their funeral
Strengthen consumer protection in relation to funeral plans
Support discussion of bereavement, death, dying and care at the end of life
Highlight products from credit unions, including those specifically for funerals
Deliver a Social Innovation Fund to help tackle disadvantage such as funeral poverty
Give people more options to save for their funeral, through a funeral bond pilot
Improve the evidence base to assess the effectiveness of our action
’Planning your own funeral’ http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/08/4930
This will be available across Scotland from local authority, NHS, and advice services.
The SNP Government held a National Conference on Funeral Poverty in November 2016 and has hosted three roundtable discussions on this issue. Work has been informed by the Scottish Working Group on Funeral Poverty(SWGFP).
The chair of the SWGFP John Birrell and Citizens Advice Scotland published ‘Funeral Poverty in Scotland A Review for Scottish Government’ February 2016.