Very recently the Scottish Government have made significant progress in tackling funeral poverty. The Burial and Cremations Bill (Scotland), introduced in October 2015, provides far-ranging policy solutions to tackle the roots of funeral poverty. Crucially, the Bill recognises funeral poverty requires cooperation from different government departments.
Here are some of the policy solutions being proposed by the Scottish Government:
- Local authorities should recognise the role of rising burial and cremation charges in contributing to overall funeral poverty and should seek ways to reduce or limit these charges.
- The government should engage all departments and relevant public service agencies to encourage open and honest conversations about dying, death and bereavement.
- Address the increasing pressure on available land for burials and support the long-term sustainability of particular burial grounds by enabling full and partial use of unused and abandoned burial plots.
- A government-led publicity campaign should be undertaken to increase awareness of funerals and funeral costs and facilitate greater public discussion generally of dying, death and bereavement.
- Allow Ministers to introduce a licensing scheme for funeral directors where it could be shown to provide benefit. It is intended that the industry will be kept under review so that an informed decision can be made in due course.
‘Funeral Poverty in Scotland – A Review for Scottish Government’ (written by Citizens Advice Scotland and Commissioned by the Scottish Government) makes additional recommendations for solving funeral poverty which Ministers are now considering.