Salford Fair Funerals Campaign
Last year I wrote a piece for our Citizens Advice internal blog site about our work here in Salford around combating funeral poverty. We thought it would be a good time to update this. We want to share our thoughts, and equally importantly to hear about examples of best practice elsewhere in the country. Last year we said:
“The costs of arranging a funeral, and the lack of support for families in meeting the
costs, is one of the life crises that can lead to a family slipping into long lasting
financial insecurity, debt and even more chronic poverty. At Salford Citizens Advice
and across our service, we deal with so much family hardship and in such great
volumes, that it can sometimes be all too easy not to notice how big a problem this is.
The funeral market is also one of the most significant entirely unregulated sectors, one
in which our clients face making big financial decisions when they are at their most
vulnerable. We thought it was time to do something!
We’ve been working here in Salford with Quaker Social Action’s national Fair Funeral
campaign – to set up a local fair funeral campaign, and we thought it might be of
interest to others. Not only is the issue important to clients, but it’s a really good
example of how local Citizens Advice offices can contribute to other organisations’
What’s been happening in 2018:
Over the last year we have been working with our local authority in the development of a ‘residents funeral offer’ – whereby the council has commissioned by tender a basic low cost standard funeral offer for all local residents. There are something like a dozen of such schemes across the county. We shared good practice examples with the council, had an input into its design, and are helping with its publicity. The scheme is up and running.
We continued to lobby individual funeral directors to join our local list of Fair Funeral providers – which now includes nearly all of our local providers.
We have also co-operated with our local credit union to set up a dedicated saving and loans product for funerals – which is tailored to match the council’s residents’ funeral scheme.
We are also now talking to the council about developing ‘direct cremation’ options – where by people just pay for a cremation and receive the ashes later. This will not only further reduce costs for families, but adds to the range of choices that are available; and importantly helps make for better use of pressurised local cremation facilities.
We felt it was important to bring all this information together online, so we developed a new website (www.salfordfairfunerals.org.uk) a service that hosts a range of local advice and information to support people newly bereaved or people planning funerals.
Whilst being heavily involved in shaping the delivery here in Salford we were also keen to ensure we shared our knowledge and sought to use it to influence reviews of national statutory and private provision.
We made submissions to the review of the funeral costs element of the social fund last year, and more recently responses to the recent Competition and Markets Authority ‘scoping’ review of the funeral industry, as well as an input into the Treasury’s review of funeral savings products.
All across the country local Citizens Advice services drive campaigns to reduce poverty, and in Salford we have long recognised the less visible notion of funeral poverty and believe we and other Citizens Advice have a huge role to play in fighting funeral poverty.
If you want to find out more about this please get in touch!
Citizens Advice Salford
November 1, 2018.