Church Action on Poverty’s ‘Food, Fuel, Finance’ programme is looking for creative, grassroots ideas that can help people on low incomes to pay fair prices for everyday necessities.
Over recent months we’ve uncovered all kinds of exciting projects and ideas in communities across the UK. We’re now reflecting on them all and considering how we can best help to share the approaches more widely.
While we complete that process, we’d like to share with you some of the inspirational ideas we’ve been exploring, in a series of blogs. This first post will look at solutions to funeral poverty.
We can press the funeral industry to properly market cheaper options, offer a new range of low-cost funerals, and improve credit control and explore innovative methods of payment so the industry doesn’t end up in the position of either having to write off large amounts of funeral debt or pursue clients in an aggressive fashion. This approach treats funeral poverty as a consumer issue.
We can also call on policy-makers and government to simplify and improve the funeral-related benefits system. This means treating funeral poverty as a social justice issue.
We can also raise public awareness to help people gain the skills and knowledge they need to avoid funeral poverty.
Quaker Social Action have already set up Down to Earth, a funeral brokerage service which offers practical support for those on low incomes struggling to afford a funeral.
Similar services could be set up in other places – or we could support brokers offering other support services (such as My Support Broker) to offer funeral brokerage too.
New funeral financial products
There is potential for credit unions to offer new financial products to help people cope with funeral costs:
- Emergency funeral loans as an alternative to payday loans to pay for funerals in a financial emergency
- Credit union-based funeral plans, building in a dividend that subsidises each plan, and with a potential surplus payable to the bereaved on death, working as top-up or alternative to the state funeral benefit
Funerals as a public service – funeral mutuals
In Grimsby and the West Midlands, new mutual organisations have been set up to offer funerals. These pilots could be developed further, and linked with credit union financial products. There’s also potential for local authority crematoria and cemeteries to be managed mutually.