§ Mr. Roger Evans
Meetings were held with representatives of the three main funeral directors' associations prior to the changes to the social fund funeral payment scheme implemented in June 1995. It was agreed that future liaison meetings would be held with officials. There are no plans to change these arrangements.
§ Mr. Evans
The amounts charged and awarded for funeral directors' fees under the previous funeral payment scheme were reviewed before changes were made. A specification was prepared following discussions with the three main national funeral directors associations. The specification now restricts the type of coffin and number of cars allowed. It is the Government's view that an amount of up to £500 is a reasonable amount to pay for the funeral director's fees, included within the specification.
§ Mr. Evans
The information is contained inRegulation 3(4) of the Social Fund Maternity and Funeral Expenses (General) Amendment Regulations 1995 (SI. 1229 1995), a copy of which is in the Library; andSocial Security leaflets: D49—What to do after a death in England and Wales; D49s—What to do after a death in Scotland: Social Security Supplement; SB 16—A guide to the Social Fund; and SF200—Social Fund Funeral Payment claim pack.
Leaflets D49 and D49S may be obtained from the office of the local registrar of births, deaths and marriages. All social security leaflets are available from social security offices and may also be obtained from the citizen's advice bureau and other advice centres.
§ Mr. Evans
Income support claimants who are responsible for meeting the expenses of a funeral may be entitled to a social fund funeral payment.
The social fund payment includes the reasonable cost of the funeral directors' fees, up to £500, and the necessary cost of disbursements for either a burial or cremation.
Where funds are available from the deceased estate or the claimant has capital over £500—£1,000 if over 60—this will be taken into account when making an award.28W
It is the Government's view that an amount up to the capped level of £500 is a reasonable amount to pay for the funeral directors' fees in respect of a dignified funeral. Where a claimant is unable to obtain the services of a funeral director within the reasonable amount, or chooses to spend more on the funeral than provided from the social fund, they may consider using any available capital, seek help from other family members, or come to mutually agreeable terms with the funeral director to pay the balance.