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Public health/pauper's funerals

In certain limited circumstances, the Council has a responsibility to arrange the funeral of a deceased person.

Where there is no alternative course of action and no other person or authority is willing or able to make the necessary arrangements, the Council has a statutory duty under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, to make arrangements for the funeral or cremation of the body of any person who has died or been found dead in the Torridge district. If a person dies without a known next of kin, the Council will normally act on written instructions received from the local coroner's officer.

We do not provide a funeral service nor do we provide advice or assistance to those suffering a bereavement or loss.

What happens next?

When notification of a death has been received and where there is no one willing to make funeral arrangements, we will search the deceased's home to try and find a Will or any documents that would indicate the existence of next of kin or funeral preferences. If details of next of kin are found, they will be invited to make the funeral arrangements.

Funeral expenses payment

If the next of kin receives one of the following, they may be eligible for a funeral payment from the Social Fund. The Social Fund is administered by the Department of Work and Pensions.

  • Income Support
  • Income- based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income- related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • The disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit
  • One of the extra elements of Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit

It can be used to cover costs which include the purchase of a grave, necessary burial or cremation fees and travel costs for the applicant to arrange and attend the funeral.  It can also cover other funeral costs, such as the coffin or flowers, up to a maximum of £1,000.  Full details of eligibility and how to access FEP can be found at GOV.UK

Bereavement Support Payment

Bereavement Support Payment is a contributory benefit (based on the National Insurance contributions of the deceased person) available to help working age people whose spouse or civil partner dies, through the difficult period following bereavement.  Further details on Bereavement Support Payment can be found at GOV.UK

Children's Funeral Fund for England

Burial authorities and cremation authorities can apply to the Government's Children's Funeral Fund for England for the reimbursement of the fees which would otherwise be charged to the bereaved family for the burial or cremation in England of a child under the age of 18 or a baby stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy.  Funding is available regardless of the income of the bereaved family.  The fund also provides for funeral directors of the pesron organising the funeral to apply for reimbursement of certain associated expenses.  Further details on the Children's Funeral Fund for England can be found at GOV.UK

The funeral

If a next of kin is not prepared to arrange or pay for the funeral, they will be asked to make a written statement to confirm that they are not prepared to do this. We may ask them to produce evidence of their income. If nobody is willing or able to make the necessary arrangements and unless there is evidence to suggest that the deceased would have made an alternative arrangement, the Council will arrange for a cremation at North Devon Crematorium Old Barnstaple Road, Barnstaple EX31 3NW. We will accommodate any specific wishes that the deceased may have had where it is reasonable to do so having regard to the value of the estate.

The remains of the deceased will be scattered in the gardens of the remembrance unless other specific instructions are found amongst the deceased possessions or in a Will.

Funeral costs

The Council has a legal claim on the estate of a deceased person to offset against the costs of arranging the funeral. Personal effects of the deceased or items of significant value may be sold to contribute towards costs. If there is evidence to suggest that the deceased held money in a bank or building society account, the account may be closed and the proceeds obtained. In rare cases when the assets exceed the costs of the funeral and any associated costs, we will report to the Treasury Solicitor in accordance with the rules set down by the Secretary of State.

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