Funeral director Jonathan Robinson has completed his walk to raise attention for the massive issue of funeral poverty, having walked from Harrogate to London. Upon his arrival in London from his over-200 mile walk, Jonathan was quick to dig out his grand regalia, including the world’s oldest motorised hearse from its Shepherd’s Bush home, for an awareness-raising march around the home of British power.
He, along with colleagues and Fair Funerals in tow, marched through Westminster and to a meeting with the Minister in charge of the funeral fund, Kit Malthouse MP. Kit has previously refused to discuss raising the funeral fund, despite surely knowing just how inadequate it is.
Jonathan later met with Carolyn Harris, the MP who, along with Fair Funerals and other organisations, was able to get the Prime Minister to agree to a Children’s Funeral Fund. There are some positive noises coming from Westminster, but every day of government inaction means a further climbing of national funeral debt.
What needs to change?
Asked by Fair Funerals what needed to be changed to make the system less unfair, Jonathan said:
“They need to retroactively apply inflation to the funeral fund (“SFFP”) which has been fixed for 15 years – you’ve got to address that – there’s a lot of nonsense that this will inflate funeral prices but they need to remove that risk.”
We’re also firmly of the opinion that the funeral industry wouldn’t, and couldn’t, put their prices up were the funeral fund to be increased, helping thousands of people avoid funeral poverty.
With prices having risen exponentially over the last decade, there’s consensus that prices have reached saturation and that raising them further would only lead to larger, unrecoverable debt for the funeral industry. It’s in no one’s interests – the industry or customers – to increase prices if the funeral fund is increased. It’s not in the Government’s interests to let it further stagnate as this is just leading to more poverty, but also to the rise of public health funerals where people have no choice but to ask the council to step in.
Cara English, Fair Funerals Campaigns Officer, says:
“The funeral fund pays out a measly 40% of a basic funeral, meaning that those few who are able to get help are still stung with massive debt. It’s a lose-lose situation and we need to change that for bereaved people. We need a proper safety net in place now to help stop grieving families slip into massive funeral debt, one that allows dignity in death for everyone regardless of means”
Jonathan aimed to raise money for Dementia UK whilst continuing to raise attention for the issue of funeral poverty in the UK. If you want to raise the profile of, and hasten the end of, funeral poverty, you can write to your MP and voice to them just how important an issue this is.
Our campaign calling on the funeral fund to be increased is here: BuryTheDebt.net