Aid for be­reaved fam­i­lies

Wishaw Press - - FRONT PAGE -

Shotts MSP Alex Neil has backed a Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment plan to help strug­gling fam­i­lies pay fu­neral costs.

The Fu­neral Costs Plan com­mits to a range of ac­tions to im­prove the sup­port avail­able to fam­i­lies fol­low­ing a be­reave­ment.

These in­clude con­sumer ad­vice, a So­cial In­no­va­tion Fund to tackle fu­neral poverty and the pi­lot of a fu­neral bond to help peo­ple save up.

Mr Neil said: “Sadly, too many peo­ple are strug­gling to pay fu­neral costs for their loved ones. It is an is­sue that re­quires a com­pre­hen­sive re­sponse, be­cause there is no doubt that fu­neral poverty is a blight on our com­mu­ni­ties.

“The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has taken de­ci­sive ac­tion to tackle the is­sue, with a more co-or­di­nated ap­proach, which will help be­reaved fam­i­lies on low in­comes or­gan­ise a re­spect­ful fu­neral without tak­ing on un­sus­tain­able debt.

“I am pleased the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has en­gaged with a range of or­gan­i­sa­tions from the fu­neral sec­tor, as well as local au­thor­i­ties and other sup­port agen­cies with a more com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach cru­cial.”

Last year a re­port from Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Scot­land noted the coun­cil’s burial costs were £1727, well above the Scot­tish av­er­age of £1373.31.

The 39 per cent hike was specif­i­cally men­tioned in the re­port into fu­neral poverty. The price rise was es­ti­mated to raise an ex­tra £552,000 per year for the coun­cil cof­fers.

How­ever, in April the coun­cil were praised by the then Craigneuk coun­cil­lor Gary O’Rorke for mak­ing a u-turn on con­tro­ver­sial burial charges on week­ends and bank hol­i­days.

Pre­vi­ously in­tern­ments tak­ing place dur­ing those times would be more ex­pen­sive than those done on reg­u­lar week­days be­fore the re­moval of the in­crease - which could have been as much as £600.

A coun­cil spokesman said: “The coun­cil has in­vested in its ceme­ter­ies and burial ser­vices and the in­crease in charges last year was nec­es­sary to main­tain the high level of ser­vice we pro­vide for be­reaved fam­i­lies.”

Cost strug­gles MSP Alex Neil Shotts

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