On Thursday 3rd November, MSPs held a debate sparked by the findings of a recent Citizens Advice Scotland report, ‘The Cost of Saying Goodbye 2016’, which showed that burial and cremation fees have increased by 8% and 11% respectively this year.

SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, expressed her concern at these rising costs, stating that:

‘Losing a loved one is hard enough without any added burden. We would all agree that everyone deserves a funeral that is meaningful to the bereaved, that is affordable, so that no one is left facing financial hardship and, crucially, one that allows people to grieve without financial distress.’

Ruth highlighted how cremation and burial fees are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to funeral poverty, pointing out additional costs including funeral directors’ fees, expenditure on flowers, notices in the paper, and catering for the wake.

With the DWP funeral payment soon to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, Ruth also stressed the need to raise awareness of the assistance that is available and to increase its uptake, noting that approximately 4,000 people in Scotland currently receive a funeral payment, whilst Scottish Government figures indicate that up to 16, 000 are eligible to apply for the support.