More Scots to get financial help to cover funeral costs

The Scottish Government forecasts a 40% rise in the number of people able to get help with funeral costs when a new benefit payment is introduced this summer.

The Funeral Expense Assistance scheme will replace the existing Department for Work and Pensions funeral payment north of the border.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said spending on the new benefit is forecast to be £6.3 million in its first full year of operation.

The Scottish Government is making an additional £2 million of cash available for the scheme, with eligibility for assistance to rise by about 40% as a result of changes being made by Holyrood ministers.

The new payment is being brought in following the partial devolution of powers over welfare to Scotland.

Ms Somerville said: “Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most tragic events any of us can face. At that difficult time, it’s even harder when there’s extra stress finding the money to pay for a funeral.

“Our Funeral Expense Assistance will increase eligibility by around 40% and so reach far more people struggling with the costs, and is backed by around £2 million additional funding.”

She said the new scheme would see help provided towards burial or cremation costs, certain transport costs, along with £700 for other costs such as funeral director fees or flowers.

Ms Somerville added the Scottish Government is committed to annually uprating that £700 sum to take account of rises in inflation – something she said the UK Government had not done since 2003.

She said: “I am pleased that this benefit will be available later this year and will deliver an improved scheme to help those on lower incomes pay for the cost of a funeral. This fits well with our wider work to tackle funeral poverty and the cost of funerals.”

She was speaking after regulations were laid at Holyrood that will allow the Funeral Expense Assistance payments to be made.

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