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Idea Exchange: Our scheme prevents residents turning to loan sharks to meet funeral costs

Paul Wright
  • Comment

Halton BC is planning an innovative scheme that would provide residents with funerals at a fixed cost that would be lower than the national average, helping ease the financial pain following a bereavement. 

  • Project: Halton residents’ funerals
  • Timescale: Launch in February 2018
  • Cost to authority: Cost of tendering process for funeral director partner - around £2,000
  • Number of staff working on project: Five
  • Outcomes: Reduce poverty caused by funeral costs; reduce cost to council of providing public health funerals
  • Officer contact details: Paul Wright

The funerals would provide a dignified and reasonable-cost alternative to what is offered in the marketplace and stop people falling into debt to pay for their loved one’s funeral expenses. This has become a real problem in recent years as funeral costs have risen.

We believe access to a dignified funeral, without getting into crippling debt, is a basic human right. It is unacceptable that a bereaved family, trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, should go through the stress of worrying about how they can afford to pay for a funeral. Many people end up with expensive credit card or payday loan debts, or need to borrow from friends or apply to charities to pay for the funeral.

This scheme will also reduce the number of funerals Halton BC must provide to people who die without having made provision and with no relatives to pay for a service. This costs Halton BC around £7,500 per year.

Halton BC will choose a provider from this service through a tender process. That provider will offer residents’ funerals at an agreed price, without the upselling that often makes the funeral more expensive than it needs to be. For the funeral director partner, this scheme presents an opportunity to secure business that might not have come to them.

The package includes a funeral service, cremation at Widnes Crematorium or burial at one of the borough’s cemeteries.

The service, which is not means tested, would include:

  • Collection of the deceased from any location in the borough or from Whiston or Warrington hospitals
  • Dressing of the deceased
  • Viewing of deceased at the chapel of rest
  • Provision of a suitable coffin
  • All necessary arrangements for the funeral service including provision of all appropriate staff and facilities
  • Transportation of the deceased in a hearse from the funeral home to the funeral service and one following limousine
  • A funeral service of 30 minutes in the Widnes Crematorium chapel or a graveside ceremony at Runcorn cemetery
  • Cremation at Widnes Crematorium or burial at Runcorn, Widnes or Peel House cemeteries. Cremated remains would be scattered without attendance in the garden of remembrance at either Widnes or Runcorn cemeteries (families will be free to make alternative arrangements with regards to ashes).

Initial plans were approved by the council’s executive board and the scheme is expected to be up and running in the New Year after a tendering process.

Paul Wright, divisional manager, open spaces division, Halton BC

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