§ 26. Mr. Gwilym Roberts
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the latest figures available for average funeral costs and what proportion of this figure is met by the £30 death grant; what were the corresponding proportions met by the death grant in 1948, 1958 and 1968; what plans he has to bring the death grant in line with current funeral costs; and if he will make a statement.
§ 37. Mr. Arthur Latham
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the present level of the death grant.
§ 75. Mr. Bowden
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to review the level of the death grant.
§ Mr. Orme
The £30 death grant represents at present about 15 per cent. of the cost of an average funeral, estimated to be about £200. The £20 grant introduced in 1949 then represented about 60 per cent. of the cost. The grant was increased to £25 in 1958, when it represented about 50 per cent. of the cost. In 1968 the grant of £30, introduced in the previous year, represented about 35 per cent. of the cost of an average funeral.
I have no plans to increase the grant at present. Its level is kept under review, but when resources are limited a choice has to be made between competing priorities. In these circumstances the Government have thought it right to concentrate on protecting, and where possible improving, the position of pensioners, families with children and the disabled.
§ 58. Mr. Ashley
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the rate of the death grant if it had kept pace with inflation since its inception; and when he proposes to increase the present grant.
§ Mr. Orme
Based on the movement of the General Index of Retail Prices up to September 1978, the latest date for which a figure is available, the present grant of £30 would need to be increased to over 97W £123 to restore the value which the £20 grant had in 1949, when it was introduced. As to the question of an increase in the grant, I refer my hon. Friend to my reply earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Mr. Roberts).
§ 72. Mr. Tim Smith
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services by how much the death grant would have to be increased to restore its real value at the time of the last increase.