Help with funeral costs

Two in three parents are already in debt as a result of their child’s cancer, so it’s no wonder funerals can be a difficult additional cost to bear and a huge source of worry. If you need financial help with the costs of a funeral, you can apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment.

What’s free? (In England and if your child was under-18)

The Children’s Funeral Fund helps with costs for under-18s buried or cremated in England. It can pay for the burial fees, cremation fees and a coffin, shroud or casket. Providers should not charge you as they can claim back their costs. However, if you are not using a funeral director then you can make a claim online, as long as it is within 6 months of the funeral.

If you do need to pay

There are things you can do to help reduce the cost but when you’re in a state of grief, it can be incredibly difficult to go the extra mile when organising. It’s completely understandable that you would want the easiest experience and best choices for you as a family. It’s also reasonable that you would want to make your child’s funeral as special as it can be, without needing to cut corners in order to save money.

Money Advice Service has more advice on help paying for a funeral.

Asking for help

Many funeral directors, clergy and celebrants do not charge any fees for a children’s funeral. Co-op Funeralcare has a free child funeral policy which provides basic support to bereaved parents of children up to the age of 18.

If you do have to pay, funeral directors will sometimes be willing to accept payments in instalments if you can’t afford the fees upfront – so it’s worth asking. Some charities, such as the Child Funeral Charity, offer financial assistance to families who do not qualify for a Funeral Expenses Payment but still need help.

What if I claim benefits?

If you are getting certain benefits, you can apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment to help cover some of the costs. The payment could cover:

  • a new burial site
  • cemetery fees including a private grave digger’s fee
  • cremation fees, including the cost of a doctor’s certificate
  • a medical reference, medical practitioner’s certificate and removing any medical device
  • transport to the funeral director’s or place of rest within the UK, if it’s more than 50 miles away
  • transporting the coffin, bearers and one additional car from the funeral director’s premises or place of rest, to the funeral
  • travel for a return journey within the UK to arrange or attend the funeral
  • up to £700 for other funeral expenses, which can include flowers, coffin and the minister’s fee
  • any documents needed to release money which could help with funeral expenses.

We can’t give full details and exclusions here, so please don’t take it for granted that you will get everything listed above.

What it doesn’t cover

If your child was old enough to have a pre-paid funeral plan, you can only get up to £120 to pay for expenses not covered by their plan.

Many people find that the Funeral Expenses Payment doesn’t cover all the costs of a funeral. It can also be reduced by the value of some of your child’s estate (though not a home or any personal possessions they have left to relatives).

What kind of funeral will it help with?

You can only claim for a Funeral Expenses Payment if:

  • it is taking place in the UK, or in certain circumstances a country elsewhere in the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • the child or young person who has died was living in the UK when they died
  • you have accepted responsibility for the funeral expenses
  • the local benefits office has agreed that it’s reasonable for you to take responsibility for the expenses.

Qualifying for the Funeral Payment

You may be able to receive help with funeral costs if you or your partner currently receives any of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit, as long as it includes the disability or severe disability element.

If you’re not claiming any of these benefits at the time of the funeral but start claiming them within the next 6 months, you can still apply for help with funeral costs. Make sure you do this as soon as you register for the benefits. If you wait until you actually receive them, you may have gone past the 6-month limit for claiming funeral costs.

If you have an undecided benefit claim when you apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment, they may wait for the decision on that claim before deciding whether to help you with funeral costs.

I am living in the UK but originally from another European country. Can I still make a claim?

In some cases, if you come from one of the countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) you may be entitled to apply to the Social Fund for help with a funeral in the UK.

Contact Young Lives vs Cancer’s Welfare Advice Service to find out if you are eligible.

How do I make a claim?

You can make a claim before the funeral if you have an invoice from the funeral director, or within 6 months of the funeral.

To claim, call the Bereavement Service helpline from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 731 0469.

You can also claim by post or contact your local Jobcentre Plus for guidance.

If you live in Northern Ireland you can contact the Bereavement Service on 0800 085 2463. Or fill in the application form and hand it in at your nearest Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office.


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