Putting ‘the grave’ into social policy: state support for funerals in contemporary UK society

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Abstract

There is a long tradition in the assessment of UK social policy of examining benefit entitlement and access, yet little attention has been paid towards benefits associated with bereavement and, in particular, what happens for those people who cannot afford a funeral and require state assistance. This is despite the fact that every year approximately one in ten deaths in the UK results in a claim to the Department for Work and Pensions' Funeral Payment for a contribution towards funeral costs. Beyond a paper in this journal over ten years ago, no research has been conducted into how the scheme is administered and what happens to those people who claim. Drawing on a study with both successful and unsuccessful Funeral Payment claimants, funeral directors and key stakeholders, this paper evaluates the Funeral Payment in terms of eligibility and entitlement, and timing and cost. It argues that closer attention needs to be paid to the issue of financial support for funerals to avoid the evolution of an unwieldy system at a time when the UK death rate is predicted to rise owing to the ageing of the population.
LanguageEnglish
Pages605-622
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Volume42
Issue number3
Early online date14 Mar 2013
DOIs
StatusPublished - Jul 2013

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social policy
funeral
cost
stakeholder
death rate
costs
pension
society
Society
Social Policy
director
assistance
death
rate

Keywords

  • Health and wellbeing
  • REF2

Cite this

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abstract = "There is a long tradition in the assessment of UK social policy of examining benefit entitlement and access, yet little attention has been paid towards benefits associated with bereavement and, in particular, what happens for those people who cannot afford a funeral and require state assistance. This is despite the fact that every year approximately one in ten deaths in the UK results in a claim to the Department for Work and Pensions' Funeral Payment for a contribution towards funeral costs. Beyond a paper in this journal over ten years ago, no research has been conducted into how the scheme is administered and what happens to those people who claim. Drawing on a study with both successful and unsuccessful Funeral Payment claimants, funeral directors and key stakeholders, this paper evaluates the Funeral Payment in terms of eligibility and entitlement, and timing and cost. It argues that closer attention needs to be paid to the issue of financial support for funerals to avoid the evolution of an unwieldy system at a time when the UK death rate is predicted to rise owing to the ageing of the population.",
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