“Public health funerals” and “direct cremation”

A little known, but long-established area of funeral legislation that is becoming increasingly relevant

The parliamentary research paper on Key issues for the new Parliament 2015 identified Funerals and burial space as an important issue in the area of social change which should be addressed by the incoming administration. The paper noted that

“[t]he costs of a basic funeral have nearly doubled over the past ten years. Meanwhile, space for burials is becoming increasingly scarce. Can people afford the cost of dying, and even if they can, will there be space for a burial if this is what they choose?”

It cited a report published by the University of Bath in 2014 which found a small but notable increase in demand for “public health funerals” and commented that “[i]n light of ongoing issues with the Funeral Payments scheme, there is concern that local authorities may be required to provide more Public Health Funerals as the number of deaths per year rises”.

This post reviews the legislation associated with “public health” funerals (sometimes referred to, incorrectly, as “pauper’s funerals”), and the related, but much more recent practice of “direct cremation” or “direct disposal”. Continue reading