Public funerals cost councils nearly £5.4 million

A Freedom of Information request has found that UK councils spent nearly £5.4 million on public health funerals in the 12 months up to April 2018.

More than 3,800 of the funerals, for people who have died alone, in poverty or without relatives, and often known as ‘pauper’s funerals’, were held during that time period, costing £5,382,379. The funerals cost councils across the country an average of £1,403 last year, leading to the Local Government Association to warn that the cost of such funeral was stretching already bare budgets.

According to the data, Birmingham City Council spent the most, with public health funerals costing the authority £990,437, some £750,000 more than the next biggest spender, Manchester. A Birmingham City Council spokeswoman said that, as the largest local authority in the UK, Birmingham's spend on public health funerals will ‘inevitably be higher when compared to other cities’.

London’s Waltham Forest had the highest rate of public health funerals per death with one for every 17 deaths that year, followed by Hackney, also in east London, with one for every 21 deaths. Comparatively, there was about one council-funded funeral for every 22 deaths in Birmingham, which was the third highest rate in the UK.

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