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A new SNP government benefit providing help for people on low-incomes to meet the costs of a funeral will be delivered via Social Security Scotland by the summer 2019.
Funeral Expense Assistance (FEA) will replace the current Funeral Payment in Scotland. Improvements mean around 40 per cent more people will be eligible to apply. FEA will provide financial support directly to those who need it most at the point of bereavement. Regulations enabling delivery of this new system were laid at the Scottish Parliament last week.
As with all SNP government benefits, FEA was developed with input from those with experience of the present system, helping to identify and address the parts of the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) application process that people currently find difficult or distressing, improving the process and removing barriers.
Arran MSP Kenneth Gibson said: ‘Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most tragic events any of us can face. It is even harder when there’s extra stress finding the money to pay for a funeral.
‘By extending eligibility to cover people ineligible under the UK Government scheme, the SNP government will make a real difference to the lives of those who may have otherwise come into financial difficulty in what is already a distressing time.
‘Our FEA will reach far more people struggling with funeral costs, backed by around £2 million of additional funding. Help will be provided towards burial or cremation, certain transport costs, plus £700 for other outlays, such as funeral directors fees or flowers.
‘The SNP government has committed to annually uprating the £700 to take account of inflation, which the UK government has not done since 2003.
‘Forecasts are that expenditure will be £6.3 million in the first full year. Like the Best Start Grant, people will be encouraged to apply so that financial support goes to those who need it most.’
The SNP government’s work to tackle funeral poverty is set out in the Funeral Costs Plan at: www.gov.scot/publications/funeral-costs-plan/, which is being progressed in partnership with the funeral industry, councils and the third sector.