Influencing councils

'Make My Council Fair' on funeral poverty

Funeral poverty has been ignored by local councils for a long time. Often their services overlook the needs of bereaved people on low incomes. As local people we need to ask them to do better.

Why not contact your council and ask them what they're doing to respond to rising funeral poverty? You can ask questions at public meetings or council surgeries. Alternatively write to your councillor. Click here to download a template letter below.

 To help you do this we've made some guidelines. Click here for a downloadable version of these guidelines

Burial sites and crematoria

Local councils still run most of the UK's crematoria and burial grounds. There have been very steep increases in the prices charged by local authorities and there are very large differences from one local authority to the next. Council websites should make their costs transparent, but many still do not. 

Ask your council

  1. Does your council publish fixed, comparable prices for cremations and burials on their website and are these easily accessible?
  2. Does your council review the prices they charge for cremations and burials and do you think they are fair and affordable?

Council-run funerals

Councils have the ability to run their own funeral services, employing a local funeral director to provide a low-cost service to residents. Good examples of this practice can be seen in Hounslow, Nottingham and Cardiff councils.

Have a look at:

Ask your council…

Has your council considered running its own low-cost funeral service?

Public Health Funerals

When there are no family or friends with the means to pay for a funeral, it becomes the responsibility of the hospital or council to provide a simple burial or cremation service. There is very little statutory guidance on councils' responsibilities around public health funerals, and there can be big differences in the way councils run them. The council will need to be satisfied that there’s no one who can pay for the funeral, but if friends and family are genuinely unable to pay, the council has a statutory responsibility to conduct a service.

Ask your council…

  1. Does your council have information on their role regarding public health funerals and what people can expect from public health funerals?
  2. Does your council allow friends and family to make the service meaningful, for instance by using music or readings to personalise the service?
  3. Does your council communicate to people that public health funerals are a simple, dignified option for people who can’t afford other options?

Clear information about paying for a funeral

When you’ve suffered bereavement and are struggling with the high cost of a funeral, you need clear, neutral information about your options. Very often this information simply doesn’t exist.

Ask your council…

  1. Do they provide a leaflet for residents with clear information about paying for a funeral?
  2. Do they make this leaflet available via registrars, bereavement services, GPs and other places that interact with grieving people?


Take action – write to your councilor 

Write to candidates and let them know that this is an issue which matters to voters. Click here to download a template letter.

Take action – speak to the local media

Get in contact with the media and explain what an important issue this is. Contact local newspapers and radio channels. If you can find local people with stories to share, even better.

Take action – social media