Chesterfield funeral director hopes to raise this issue on Question Time on Thursday

A Chesterfield funeral director claims an 'unfair' system is pushing grieving people into debt.

Tuesday, 17th April 2018, 7:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th April 2018, 8:01 pm
Funeral payments help cover the costs of a coffin, among other things.

Mark Rothman voiced concern that Government funeral payments - which help relatives pay fees for funeral directors, a coffin and flowers - have been frozen at £700 since 2003.

The price of a basic funeral, however, has risen for the 14th year in a row and now stands at £4,078, according to the latest SunLife Cost of Dying report.

Mr Rothman, director of Spire Funeral Services on Derby Road, said: "People receiving the payments are struggling to pay for funerals and are being pushed into debt.

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"This is an issue locally as well as nationally.

"I think the system is unfair and I’d like to see the Government increase funeral payments to help people."

Mr Rothman said he will be in the audience for the BBC's Question Time in Chesterfield on Thursday night and will ask about the issue of funeral payments if given the opportunity.

'We don't want pauper's funerals'

Funeral payments are available to people on means-tested benefits.

In 2016, the work and pensions select committee released a report, Support for the Bereaved, which concluded that much of the help on offer from the state to the bereaved is inadequate in the face of rising funeral costs.

Labour MP Frank Field, chair of the committee, said: "Funeral payments for those who can prove they are entitled - and that is a very uncertain and onerous process - now fall far short of covering even a basic funeral.

"We do not want a return to the spectre of miserable 'pauper's funerals'."

A Government spokesman said: "We understand that bereavement is an incredibly difficult time for people.

"Funeral Expenses Payments provide an important contribution towards funeral costs and we have now made it easier to claim."

The spokesman added that the Government has been engaging with the funeral industry about making costs and choices more transparent to consumers so they can make sensible and informed decisions.

Mr Rothman said: "I'm determined to be community-minded and my prices are very low to help families in the Chesterfield area."

Visit www.spirefunerals.co.uk for more information about the business.