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New Scottish funeral benefit launches next week

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New Scottish funeral benefit launches next week

A new benefit to help people on low incomes pay for the costs of a funeral will be available from next week, the Scottish Government has announced.

The funeral support payment launches on 16 September and has three elements: burial or cremation costs; a flat rate £700 toward expenses including funeral director fees, coffin and flowers; and some transport costs.

It will be available for recipients of universal credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, pension credit, housing benefit, child tax credit and disability or severe disability elements of the working tax credit.

Currently the average cost of a funeral in Scotland is £3,537 and funeral poverty in the UK has increased by 12 per cent in the past year, a Royal London Mutual Insurance Society report found.

The payment will mean 40 per cent more Scots will be eligible for financial support at the point of bereavement, delivered by Social Security Scotland. It replaces the Department for Work and Pensions funeral expense payment, for people in Scotland.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the payment was “designed and tested” by the public and stakeholders, including funeral directors and welfare advisors, “to ensure the product is one we can be proud of”.

“Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most tragic events any of us can face.  At that difficult time, it’s even harder when there’s extra stress finding the money to pay for a funeral,” she said.

“The new support will reach far more people struggling with funeral costs and is backed by around £2 million additional funding.

“The flat rate element of the Funeral Support Payment will be £700 for the majority of applications, and we have committed to annually uprating this in line with inflation – something the UK Government have not done since 2003.”

Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland Derek Mitchell welcomed the support payment.

“We made the case for the payment to be increased so it keeps pace with the cost of living, and also for widening eligibility so more people can claim it, and we are delighted the Scottish Government listened,” he said.

“A funeral can put massive pressure on peoples’ finances, heaping stress on grieving families. This payment in delivering support to families during that period, delivering some security and peace of mind, will be invaluable.”

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