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Public health funerals

Research from the Local Government Association shows a slight increase in the number, and cost, of funerals provided by local councils.


These are known as public health funerals, sometimes refered to as pauper's funerals.


Under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, when a resident in the area passes away and no one else is able or willing to pay, councils arrange a public health funeral.


Councils will try to locate living relatives or friends of the deceased, and in some cases, pass the responsibility on to them.


If a council cannot find a friend or family member willing to deal with the deceased’s estate and pay for the funeral, then councils will try to establish the deceased’s faith and arrange a dignified service.


If not, a simple ceremony takes place followed by a burial or cremation.


The council will deal with all aspects of the organisation of a state-assisted funeral, including registering the death, dealing with the funeral directors and organising the details of the funeral.


If possible the council will involve the deceased’s friends and relatives in the process, and in paying for the funeral.


Councils will not:

  • accept part payment for funerals;
  •  contribute to the costs of funerals organised by other people; or
  •  administer estates on behalf of others.

Public health funerals are not common.


The number of public health funerals held by local councils has been broadly consistent across the last three years with, on average, 12 funerals happening per year in London boroughs, English metropolitan and unitary councils and three in district councils and Welsh authorities.


There are, on average, three male public health funerals to one female public health funeral.

Funerals for over 65s accounted for over half of all public health funerals.


To ensure you don't fall into this very small category, consider taking out a pre-paid funeral plan.


Also, ensure you put your funeral wishes in your Lifebox and give a second key to a close family member or trusted friend who will open it after your death and carry out your wishes.


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