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Funeral Poverty

A review for Scottish Government

This report gives wide reaching recommendations on how to tackle funeral poverty in Scotland.

In June 2015 Citizens Advice Scotland published the Cost of Saying Goodbye report regarding the rising and varying cost of funerals in Scotland. In it we highlight the large differences in what people pay for burial and cremation fees depending on the local authority area where they live. Our research has revealed a significant variation in the basic costs of burial which can vary by as much as four times depending on where someone lives in Scotland.

Our previous work evidences the increasing number of Scots who are struggling to pay for basic funerals and the unacceptable situations many families, up and down Scotland, find themselves in when recently bereaved. In 2015 we saw prices increase by an average of 10% for burial costs and 5% for cremation charges when compared to 2014. In one local authority area prices increased by over 40%, an unaffordable inflation for those struggling on low incomes. Our frontline advisers continue to give us feedback that the problem of people struggling to scrape together the finance to pay for a funeral is increasing.

We believe that if left unchecked funeral poverty is going to have serious knock on effects on other public services in Scotland and preventative action is now a serious priority. The current trend of rising funeral costs is unsustainable and is damaging communities across Scotland.

This report offers a number of wide reaching and ambitious recommendations on how costs can be controlled and families given much more ability to arrange a respectful funeral at an affordable price. Some of these changes will be difficult and some will take time but with strong leadership and a lasting commitment to helping the bereaved all are achievable

John Birrell & Fraser Sutherland
Publication date
February 2016
Publication type
Number of pages