Funerals can be very expensive. While it’s possible to keep costs down  – read our article on how to reduce funeral costs for advice on this – you might still need help paying for a funeral.

This guide takes a look at the financial assistance you might be able to get from the government, charities, and other sources if you can’t pay funeral costs.

Covered in this guide:

Can your funeral director help with funeral costs?

Once you’ve chosen a funeral director, it’s important to ask them if they accept government benefits or if they work directly with any charities that help with funeral costs.

Even if they don’t, some funeral directors will offer to set up a longer-term payment schedule with you. So you might not have to pay the full cost of the funeral right away.


How to get government help with funeral costs

There are currently two main ways to get help with funeral costs from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions): the Funeral Expenses Payment and the Bereavement Support Payment.

Here’s an overview of who can apply these schemes and how much they can help towards funeral costs:

The Funeral Expenses Payment

What is it? The Funeral Expenses Payment is a one-off grant from the government designed to help people on certain benefits pay for a funeral.

What does it include? The Funeral Expenses Payment will cover the cost of the burial or cremation, travel to and from the funeral, official paperwork and hearse transport. You can also get up to £700 more to help with funeral expenses like funeral director fees, flowers and other costs (this is due to rise to £1,000 in spring of 2020). The average payment is about £1,500.

Who’s eligible? To apply, you must be a close relative, partner or parent of the person who has died. You’ll also need to be on one or more of the qualifying benefits:

  • Income Support,
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension, Child Tax, or Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • the element of Working Tax Credit that relates to those with disabilities.

How do I apply? At the moment, you can apply over the phone or by post, but online applications are on the way – find out more here.

How long do I have to apply? For this kind of state help with funeral costs, you’ll need to apply within six months of the funeral taking place. 

If it turns out later on that the estate of the person who has died has enough money to pay for the funeral, you might need to give the Funeral Expenses Payment back.

Find out more about the Funeral Expenses Payment here.

The Bereavement Support Payment

What is it? The Bereavement Support Payment is a one-off, tax-free payment given to the spouse or civil partner of someone who has died.

It’s intended to help widowed partners adjust to a change in household income. This means it can be a good way to get government help with funeral costs even if you’re not on benefits.

What does it include? A one-off payment of £2,500 or £3,500, followed by 18 monthly payments of £100 or £350. You’ll be given the higher rate if you’re already receiving Child Benefit.

Who’s eligible? To apply for the Bereavement Support Payment, you need to be under the State Pension age, and your spouse or civil partner needs to have either paid 25 weeks of National Insurance contributions or have died due to a work-related incident.

How do I apply? You’ll need to complete and post a Bereavement Support Payment pack. Your local Jobcentre Plus can supply this and send it off for you. Find out more here.

How long do I have to apply? To get the full Bereavement Support Payment, you need to apply within three months of your partner’s death. You can still apply up to 21 months later, but you’ll receive slightly less money.

Find out more about the Bereavement Support Payment here.

A Budgeting Loan

What is it? The government provides small, interest-free loans to help those on certain qualifying benefits. The payments are taken back out of your benefits over the course of two years. If you stop receiving benefits, you’ll need to make arrangements to pay another way.

What does it include? The minimum amount you can borrow is £100. The maximum amount depends on your situation. You can get up to:

  • £348 if you are single
  • £464 if you are with a partner
  • £812 if you claim Child Benefit

The final amount you get will also depend on your savings, whether you’re already paying off a loan and whether you’re likely to be able to pay it back.

Who’s eligible? To apply for a Budgeting Loan, you need to have spent at least six months on one or more of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit

You might not be eligible for a Budgeting Loan if you get Universal Credit unless you’re also claiming Pension Credit when you apply.

How do I apply? You can apply online or by post – completed forms can be handed in to your local Jobcentre Plus. Find out more here.

How long do I have to apply? The Budgeting Loan can be used to pay for all kinds of things, not just funerals, so there’s no deadline. You will usually hear back within about 20-25 days after your application. If you accept the terms, then the loan will be given to you about 12 days after that.

Find out more about Budgeting Loans here.

Would you like some help with applying for one of these grants? Head to your local Jobcentre Plus – the staff there can help you fill out the forms and even pop them in their outgoing mail for you.


Charities that help with funeral costs

There are a number of charitable organisations that offer financial help with funeral expenses. Your best bet will be a charity that works specifically with people in your situation.

For example, you might want to think about:

  • How the person died. Leukaemia Care will sometimes help pay for a funeral, for example.
  • If a child has died. The Child Funeral Charity, React, and Children are Butterflies can all help with funeral costs for a child.
  • The occupation of the person who has died, or your own. For example, the Care Workers Charity helps pay for funerals arranged by or for those who have worked in the care profession.
  • Your age, or theirs. Friends of the Elderly offer small grants towards funeral costs to older people who have little to no savings.
  • Your nationality, or theirs. ScotsCare is a good example: they offer grants (for all kinds of reasons) to Scottish people living in London.
  • Where you are. Consider asking your local council if they know of any locally-run schemes. For example, Caritas Westminster is a Catholic organisation that offers grants to parishioners in the Westminster area when they need help with funeral costs.
  • The kinds of costs you need help with. Many utility providers have grants or relief schemes that can help you cover the household bills of the person who has died. The British Gas Energy Trust has also in the past offered grants towards funeral costs.

These are just a few examples – the Turn2Us grant search tool can help you find an organisation that might help you based on the criteria above. Click here to start a search.

Charities that help with funeral expenses will usually ask for thorough evidence of your financial situation, and may need to see evidence that you’ve already tried to source the money elsewhere before they release funds.


Other ways to get financial help with funeral costs

If you’re not eligible for a grant from the government or a charity, there are other ways to get help with funeral costs.

Out of the estate

If the person who has died had enough money to pay for their funeral in their bank account, the executor or administrator of the estate can ask their bank to release these funds to the funeral director. However, they may ask for a grant of probate first.

If you choose to use Beyond’s full estate administration service, we will pay for the funeral up-front and then reclaim the funds from the estate later on. This can help lessen the pressure to arrange timely payment.

Crowdfunding for funerals

These days, more and more families are getting help with funeral costs through online crowdfunding – setting up online profiles that friends and family members can visit to donate money towards the funeral. Beyond’s free online obituaries are designed for this: it takes just a few minutes to set up a tribute page that people can visit to share memories and contribute funds. The pages are also easy to send around via email and social media.

When someone dies, people are often worried about the close family, and are pleased to be able to do this one small thing to help. Even if there’s no single person who can afford the whole funeral, if a lot of people donate it can be taken care of. So crowdfunding can be a great way to bring family and friends together to do something positive in memory of your loved one.

When all other options have been explored and no solution found, your local council might be able to arrange and pay for a ‘public health funeral’. You can find out more about them here.


Do you have any advice on getting help with funeral costs? We’d love to hear from you. Add your tips in the comments section below.

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