On Tuesday in the House of Commons Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (Lab, South Shields) was given leave under the Ten-Minute Rule to introduce her Funeral Services Bill. The Bill (which, it should be said, has no realistic chance of becoming law) would
“require the Secretary of State to undertake a review of funeral affordability and costs; to require the providers of funeral services to offer a simple funeral service; to require the Secretary of State to make certain arrangements relating to funeral payments”.
Its principal purposes are to identify ways of reducing funeral costs by requiring the Secretary of State to conduct an overarching review of funeral affordability in the UK, to reform the funeral payments social fund system and to require funeral directors to introduce the option of a “simple funeral”. Her principal point in support of her proposal was that recent research by Royal London Insurance had found that one fifth of bereaved families struggled to afford the cost of a funeral and that the price of a service is was accelerating far faster than inflation at the same time as state support was falling.
What hit the headlines, however, was her assertion that “Some are holding do-it-yourself funerals, and even having to bury relatives in their back garden”. Which sparked off the immediate thought, But can you do that without some kind of official permission? And as usual, the answer seems to be slightly equivocal. Continue reading