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Three people were given 'pauper' funerals in Fenland last year

Paupers’ funerals cost Fenland District Council thousands of pounds last year, new research shows - and paid double national average for each.

Public health funerals – commonly known as paupers’ funerals – are arranged by councils when someone dies and has no traceable family, or when no-one is able or willing to organise and pay for a service.

But insurance company Royal London says a lack of minimum standards means some grieving relatives across the UK are being treated unfairly.

Fenland District Council spent £6,250 on three public health funerals in 2018-19, according to information obtained by the firm via Freedom of Information requests.

Three people in Fenland were given 'pauper' funerals last year. (26633583)
Three people in Fenland were given 'pauper' funerals last year. (26633583)

It means the average cost was £2,083 – well above the national average of £1,507.

Royal London asked councils if they allow family members to attend a public health funeral – 14 said they do not, with reasons given including that there is no service to attend.

It also found that 21 councils by default do not return ashes to bereaved families after a cremation, and 18 charge for ashes to be returned, with fees varying between £10 and £18.

Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert, saidit is "incredibly sad" when bereaved families are forced to seek a public health funeral.

"But when some families are refused the ashes of their loved ones or are not even allowed to attend the funeral, it is clear that they are being treated unfairly."

Nearly a third of the funerals were because bereaved families were unable to afford the cost of a private funeral, the mutual insurer added.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for burials and cremations, said: “We are aware of concerns around the different services local authorities provide for public health funerals and are considering the matter.”

A Local Government Association spokesman said: "With local authorities facing challenging funding pressures, the increase in the number of public health funerals is putting further pressure on council budgets, and driving them to limit the costs they incur in arranging these funerals."

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