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Home  >  News  >  Churches In Funeral Poverty Call

News

Churches In Funeral Poverty Call

Tuesday September 13

Churches in Scotland and the UK are increasing the pressure on the Edinburgh and London governments to do more to combat funeral poverty.

A debate will be held in Westminster tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, and the ecumenical charity Church Action on Poverty (CAP) is urging supporters to ask their MP to attend and call for action.

And a Church of Scotland minister, who has campaigned on the issue for several years, has called on the Scottish Government to use newly-devolved social security measures to help families struggling to pay for loved ones’ funerals.

The CAP report Preventing Poverty Beyond Death, published last year, found that the cost of funerals had increased 80% in ten years, and that people on low incomes ‘are increasingly finding that the death of a loved one plunges them into serious and long-term debt’.

Tomorrow’s debate, led by Belfast East MP Gavin Robinson, will call on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to make access to social fund funeral payments easier.

In an email to supporters, Liam Purcell of CAP said: “A Parliamentary Select Committee has made recommendations to tackle the problem, but so far the DWP have failed to act on them. Now, this is our chance to get funeral poverty back on the Government agenda, and convince the Department for Work and Pensions to take action.”

Responsibility for the social fund funeral payments in Scotland is shortly to be devolved to Holyrood as part of a transfer of social services powers. The Rev Bryan Kerr, the Church of Scotland’s epresentative on the Scottish Working Group on Funeral Poverty, the Funeral Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Government Working Group on Funeral Poverty and Social Security Funeral Payment, called on the Scottish Government to make sure the poorest families can access the grant easily.

Mr Kerr, minister of Greyfriars Church in Lanark, said: “The Department of Work and Pensions who administer the Social Fund Funeral Payment have a cumbersome mechanism for checking eligibility at a time of great difficulty within a family situation.

“The Church is working with, and calling on, the Scottish Government to ensure that, when the funeral payment is devolved as part of the Social Security powers, the system for checking eligibility is swift to ensure that those who apply have the knowledge that some funds will be made available to them to help with the cost of a funeral.”


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