§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much has been spent on contributions towards funeral costs from the social fund in each of the past five years; what was the average payment; and how much it would cost to reimburse clergymen for the fees in addition to other current costs; 
(2) how many grants towards funeral expenses have been paid from the social fund in each of the past five years; and how many have subsequently been reclaimed. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
The numbers of social fund funeral payments awarded, annual expenditure and the average payments for the last five years are in my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's Annual Reports on the Social Fund 1996–97 to 2000–01. Copies of the reports are in the Library.
Information on the number of awards recovered is not held, but the amounts recovered each year are also in the reports.
Funeral payments cover the cost of specified items, which include the fees levied by the burial authorities and crematoria, where payable. In addition, £600 is available for the person arranging the funeral to select any extra items or services they consider appropriate. Not everyone uses or has to pay for the services of a minister of religion. However, any fee or donation in respect of such services may be met from within this additional £600. We have no estimate of how much it would cost to reimburse clergymen for their fees.