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What is Funeral Poverty?


The term “Funeral Poverty” is a fairly recent construct which has emerged over the past 5 years or so within the growing awareness of problems with the Social Fund Funeral Payment and increasing distress experienced by those on low incomes seeking to meet the costs of funerals.

A study by the Social Policy Unit at York University, commissioned by Marie Curie, explored the concept of ‘funeral poverty’ and the potential value and feasibility of seeking an agreed definition of meaning. You can read that report here.

The report Funeral Poverty in Scotland – a review for Scottish Government  proposed the following definition:


FUNERAL POVERTY is a generic term used to encompass a range of issues around the difficulties experienced by people with insufficient funds faced with paying the cost of a funeral.  In particular Funeral Poverty comprises:

Funeral debt    the inability to pay timeously and in full the cost of a funeral for which a person is responsible

Funeral debt burden    the contribution responsibility for the cost of a funeral plays in a person’s overall experience of unsustainable debt

Bereavement poverty    the effect of financial debt and/or having to adjust the funeral for financial reasons has on the grief experience of the person responsible for arranging and paying for the funeral

Funeral industry debt    the burden of debt carried by the funeral industry as a result of people being unable to pay in full for a funeral for which they are responsible.


Other individuals and orgaisations have other definitions.

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