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Public Health Funerals

When a person dies within the New Forest District Council boundary and there is no one available to take responsibility for the funeral, under Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 the District Council will arrange the funeral. Under this Act the funeral expenses are the first call on any estate. The Council is empowered under the act to collect any and all sums of money due or belonging to the deceased and to sell any belongings of the deceased in order to help offset the costs.

The Council will not normally become involved when there are family members (brothers, sisters, spouses, etc) who would in normal circumstances inherit.

You may be able to get a Funeral Payment from the Benefits Agency but it depends on the benefits you're getting, your relationship with the person who died and any other money, other than your personal savings, that may be available to help with the cost of the funeral.

Benefits and tax credits

You may be eligible for a Funeral Payment from the Social Fund if you or your partner are getting any of the following benefits or tax credits:

Income Support
income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Pension Credit
Housing Benefit
Council Tax Benefit (or the Council Tax payer where you live gets a Second Adult Rebate because you are on a low income)
Working Tax Credit which includes a disability or severe disability element
Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element

The term 'partner' is used here to mean:

a person you are married to, or person you live with as if you are married to them

a civil partner, or person you live with as if you are civil partners

Funeral Payments

The Council will not become involved if funeral arrangements have already been made or an undertaker has been instructed. Anyone giving instruction to a firm of Funeral Directors is responsible for any costs incurred.

The funeral director is contracted to provide a dignified funeral, with a coffin which will be of a respectable appearance, and which will be taken to the cemetery or crematorium in a hearse. If the deceased is buried it will be in plots marked for triple graves. The Council will retain ownership for the grave and hence no headstone or memorabilia will be allowed. There will be a celebrant or minister of whatever religious denomination is required if the deceased will requests it. The general manner of the funeral is such that an ordinary observer could not differentiate between this and any other funeral service. Unless the deceased has made specific financial arrangements

Generally, after the funeral and administration charges have been deducted, and there are no other bills outstanding, any money left would go to the Treasury Solicitor in accordance with their guidelines for referring estates in 'Bona Vacantia - small receipts' cases.

The doctor confirming death will generally issues the death certificate together with a sheet giving instructions and guidance on who can register a death and the procedure for doing so. When deaths come under the Coroner's jurisdiction, his office will inform the person taking responsibility for the funeral and expenses when and how to register. Advice can also be sought from the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths.

The Council would not usually undertake these arrangements if the next of kin were in receipt of benefits, as the Benefits Agency would pay most if not all of the funeral bill - although of course this would be dependent on what was requested of the funeral director. It is essential to inform the funeral director first of all of any financial limitation so that they can keep within a client's means.

The booklet D.49 - What to do after a death in England and Wales - is widely available from hospitals, doctor's surgeries, the D.S.S. etc.

Contact Us: Tel: 023 8028 5588 and ask for Ann Chester


Updated: 23 Apr 2018
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