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Coming down to earth on funeral costs

Coming down to earth on funeral costs

Quaker Social Action (QSA) has launched a scheme that helps people on low incomes plan the funeral they want for a lost loved one at a price they can afford.

The scheme – called Down to Earth – brings together health professionals, religious leaders, solicitors, crematorium staff and funeral directors. Based in east London, it has trained 15 volunteer mentors, who have already helped nearly 40 families to save thousands of pounds in funeral costs. Families approach the charity directly or referrals come from hospitals, hospices, district nurses or palliative care teams.

“When someone close to us dies, money is often the last thing on our minds,” reads the charity’s website.  “However, in 2008 the average cost of a funeral was £7,000. For someone on a low income, finding
that money can be the first step in a downward spiral of financial difficulty and debt.”

“Down to Earth is developing support for people during this difficult time. We want to help bereaved people to plan a funeral that honours and celebrates the life of the person who has died, but which will not have a negative effect on their own financial future.”

The charity is also raising awareness of the impact of funeral-related debt on low-income families and calling upon the funeral industry to introduce a value-for-money indicator or Kitemark system.

It is urging the government to set up a dedicated service for applications for funeral costs. Currently, families can claim up to £1,250 from the Social Fund towards costs but in practice, 40% of such claims are refused.

Quaker Social Action has been working in east London for 143 years to resource, enable and equip people living on a low income. Its projects include schemes helping people to furnish their homes without getting into debt and helping non-priority homeless people to find a home.

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