Public health funerals

Public Health Funerals are also known as national assistance funerals and paupers' funerals.

What is the council's role?

Under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, we have a statutory duty to make arrangements for the funeral of the body of any person who has died within the borough, where it appears that the deceased has no living relatives or sufficient funds for a burial. Where possible, we will recover funeral expenses from monies available from the deceased's estate.

If a person dies without a known next of kin, we normally act on written instructions received from the local Coroner's officer. In some instances, the managers of residential homes and sheltered accommodation advise of circumstances, as far as they know.

What happens next?

Where the coroner has notified us of a death, where there appears to be no one willing to make the funeral arrangements, a search of the deceased person’s home will be undertaken to try and find a will or any documents that will help to identify the existence of any relatives or funeral preferences.

Where details of family and friends are found, they will be informed of the death and invited to make the funeral arrangements.

Close relatives or partners will be asked to confirm in writing that they are not prepared to make arrangements for the funeral.

Who pays for the funeral?

The cost of the funeral is usually met out of the estate of the deceased.

If the next of kin is not prepared to arrange and pay for the funeral (for example, where there are insufficient funds in the estate), they will be asked to make a written statement to confirm that they are not prepared to do this, and to confirm they won’t have access to their relatives property or funds.

Funeral payments and the Social Fund

If the next of kin receives one of the following, they may be entitled to a funeral payment from the Social Fund:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seekers Allowance (income-based)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Support
  • Disabled Persons Tax Credit/Working Families Tax Credit.

You can find more information about funeral payments on the GOV.UK website.

When and where will the funeral be held?

If there is no one available or prepared to arrange the funeral and all alternative options are exhausted, we will take responsibility for the funeral arrangements, upon receiving written confirmation from all relatives, that they have no interest in their relative's estate. These include arranging the registration of the death and instructing a Funeral Director to collect the body, provide a coffin and transport the deceased to one of our cemeteries for burial.

As the grave will be used for a second burial of a similar nature, permanent memorials are not permitted on the burial plot.

Download the list of Public Health Funerals undertaken by the council since 2004.

Last updated: 9.15am on Thursday 4 April 2019