A workshop investigating the problems people face paying funeral bills wants to establish more support for the bereaved.
A Wiltshire Citizens Advice social policy report found that the average cost of a funeral is £3,284 with the overall cost being £7,114.
This second figure includes extras, known as disbursements, such as transport, florist, printing and legal costs which many don’t anticipate.
Last Friday, representatives from the Citizens Advice Bureau, Wiltshire Council and funeral providers met, at St John’s Parish Centre, to discuss ways of cutting costs and making the public aware of everything that needs to be paid for when someone dies.
Author of the report, Alison Dewar, a social policy volunteer, said: “Many of the people I spoke with had no idea how much a funeral actually costs, we need the help from MPs, GPs, care agencies and other organisations to make people aware of the debt they face.
“Many people are simply overwhelmed when organising a funeral, as it is of course a very difficult time and many don’t know what is involved.”
The report recommended a clear four step code be introduced with the main points suggested that cost awareness should be raised, funeral directors should clearly clarify charges, support should be given to those struggling to pay for services and that the public support funding process should be quickened.
Currently, those who struggle to pay for funerals can apply to the government’s social fund funeral payment scheme but that only entitles applicants to up to £1,200 and the report also raises concerns about the success rate and eligibility.
Shelia Dicks, of Will Case & Partners and the Salisbury College of Funeral Sciences, said: “This is a splendid report and you know it something that the Citizens Advice Bureau will run with.
“There are a lot of costs out there but one thing I always say to my clients is that you don’t have to spend large amounts of money to show you love someone, its the quality and personal touches that count, and a good funeral can be done quite cheaply.”
Wiltshire Citizens Advice plan to work with the University of Bath to research the issue further and plan to set up a working group to take the report’s recommendations forward.
For more information visit www.cabwiltshire.org.uk.