Comment on Scotland’s changes to the Funeral Expenses Allowance

Dignity welcomes the Scottish Government's announcement that the new Funeral Expenses Allowance (FEA) will increase in line with inflation. This follows Dignity's, amongst other industry voices, recommendations to index link the benefit which Dignity detailed in its response to the Scottish Government's consultation. This announcement forms part of the Social Security Bill in Scotland.

The payment covers burial and cremation charges for eligible low-income families. An additional maximum amount capped at £700 (since 2003) is available to help with funeral expenses, which include but are not limited to funeral director and minister costs. The average total award, including both cremation or burial charges plus funeral expenses, in 2017 made by the UK government was £1427. The average cost of a funeral quoted by Sun Life and Royal London annual surveys is approximately £3,900.

In new proposals, passed by the Scottish Parliament today, the benefit would be index linked to inflation, which would mean an increase of about 3 per cent every year.

Simon Cox, Head of Insight and External Communications at Dignity said "The Scottish Government has listened to concerns raised by the funeral industry, consumer groups and others in relation to the proposed Funeral Expenses Allowance and has made some genuine improvements to this benefit by making it, simpler and more accessible. As we explained in our response to its consultation, there was a danger that the positive changes made would be undermined had indexation of the FEA not been put in place. The Scottish Government has used its devolution powers to make the largest step forward for the FEA in value terms for 15 years.

In England and Wales the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment (SFFEP) will still retain the cap introduced in 2003. It is worth noting that had the benefit been indexed since 2003 it would now be worth £1087.

We are once again calling on Westminster to reconsider its position on the SFFEP and follow suit."


For further details please call:
Simon Cox, Head of Insight and External Communications at Dignity – 07506 730 731

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