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Action on funeral poverty

Published: 16 Nov 2016 09:30

Better advice and support for planning funerals.

Citizens Advice Bureaux will expand their support to people needing advice on funeral planning, the Social Security Secretary, Angela Constance, announced this morning.

Speaking at the Funeral Poverty Conference in Edinburgh Ms Constance praised the work already undertaken in highlighting the rising cost of funerals and said she was making funding available for training CAB advisors across Scotland to help people plan for funerals.

Local CABs have already been running a similar scheme which will be extended across Scotland. The roll out will include -

  • developing a new e-learning module
  • holding regional training events and
  • offering enhanced practical planning tools and information
  • supporting people to access Funeral Payments

The conference will help to inform the Scottish Government’s funeral costs plan, which will be published next year.

The recent Social Security consultation, which ended last month, included a section on the funeral payment, which is one of the benefits that will be transferred to Scotland with the new social security powers. The Scottish Government has already committed to processing applications within ten working days of receipt, in order to ease the impact of long processing times.

Speaking ahead of the conference Ms Constance said:

“Funerals are very personal, wrapped up in family and tradition. But they can also be stressful, especially when money is tight.

“It is important that people are able to organise and pay for a funeral which meets their needs within their budget. But it can be difficult for bereaved people to compare funeral prices and get the full picture of the options that are open to them.

“CAB advisers already play a vital role in providing advice and support around funeral planning and this new initiative will ensure the very best advice and support is available to people across Scotland when they are faced with planning and paying for a funeral.

“Devolution of funeral payments provides an opportunity to set up a new system which is more predictable, processed more quickly and joined up with Scottish policy.

“We will use our new powers over funeral payments to reach more of those in need, reducing the need for borrowing and the stress that this can cause.

Anne Lavery, acting CEO of CAS, said:

"As our research shows, too many families are struggling to afford a decent burial for their loved ones. People in that distressing situation need free practical advice. The CAB service delivers that, and this welcome new funding will enable us to help even more families through this difficult situation."

Background

The Scotland Act 2016 devolves powers over the DWP funeral payment to Scottish Ministers. Information on the new future for social security is at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/fairerscotland/future-powers

The Scottish Government commissioned a review of funeral poverty from John Birrell, Chair of the Scottish Working Group on Funeral Poverty and Citizens Advice Scotland – published in January 2016. The report is available at: http://www.cas.org.uk/publications/funeral-poverty

The Scottish Government response to the report is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/fairerscotland/future-powers/Publications