Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 09.04.09A North East solicitor has backed calls for grants towards funeral costs to be increased for low income families, as the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee hears evidence on the matter.

Andrew Simpson, Lead Panel Solicitor with Seaham-based Ensure Inheritance, supports a reform of the present system of the Department for Work and Pensions’ Funeral Payments scheme which provides help to anyone on a low income.  He has added his voice to calls from funeral directors for the system to change.

Mr Simpson says: “The Funeral Payments scheme is simply ineffective at present.  Applicants are not told how much they will get until after the burial or cremation, and often the money is not enough to cover the deposit of a funeral.

“The average grant is £1,375 towards individual burial and cremation costs, plus up to £700 for further expenses.  But a basic burial costs at least £3,000, providing worry and money problems for low income families.”

According to Mr Simpson, many older people on pensions can struggle to meet the costs of a funeral, which is becoming more expensive.

He says: “The average cost of a basic funeral has increased by 65% in the last eight years, particularly as the prices for cremation services and burial plots charged by local authorities have gone up, making it even more expensive to give a loved one a proper send off.  One way around this is to plan for funeral costs in advance through a pre-paid funeral plan or to make regular payments into a savings account.

“People generally do not like to think about their funeral and how their life will be celebrated, but taking time and trouble to do this, and paying for their funeral in advance can remove money worries and bring peace of mind to them and to their loved ones,” says Mr Simpson.

As part of its estate planning service, Ensure Inheritance provides advice on pre-paid funeral plans.  It can be contacted on tel. 0191 338 5143, via email at info@ensureinheritance.co.uk or via its website www.ensureinheritance.co.uk

Based in Seaham in County Durham, Ensure Inheritance provides a range of legal and financial planning services which help protect financial assets to provide their clients and their loved ones with peace of mind.  Services include: Long term care planning, funeral planning, will and estate planning, inheritance tax planning, powers of attorney, court of protection deputyships, and probate.