Funerals arranged by the council
We have a duty to arrange the funeral of any person within the Borough who has died or has been found dead, where no suitable arrangements for the funeral have been or are being made. Despite providing a basic welfare funeral this doesn't mean that the service lacks the dignity of a normal funeral. The service is similar to one you would receive from an undertaker with certain restrictions. Referrals are often made by Cheshire Police, care homes, social workers and the coroner. Under the obligation, we'll deal with all aspects of organisation of a public health funeral, including registering the death, dealing with the undertakers and organising the details of the funeral:
- One hearse to transport the deceased to Warrington Crematorium from the funeral directors
- There will be no opportunity to view the body at the funeral directors, nor will the body be embalmed
- A 20 minute ‘slot’ at the crematorium
- No flowers are provided for the coffin, however they can be provided by friends, family carers etc.
- Where appropriate one personal effect will be recovered from the deceased’s address, to be placed on top of the coffin, no other personal affects can be placed inside or on top of the coffin
- A piece of classical music as the coffin enters the crematorium (chosen by us)
- A few minutes reflection time after the coffin enters
- There'll be no ‘service’ or speaker at the crematorium - the time of the ‘slot’ is arranged by ourselves directly with the funeral directors and is non-negotiable
- A piece of classical music as the coffin leaves the crematorium (chosen by us)
- Family members, friends, carers etc are encouraged to attend the crematorium
- Where there is money in the estate we will reclaim the officer costs associated with arranging the funeral
Unfortunately, no assistance is available from the council if the funeral has already taken place or if someone has already taken responsibility for the funeral.
- If a person has died in a hospital ward, we won't make the funeral arrangements. This will be the responsibility of the bereavement services at the hospital. However, if the person died in accident and emergency, we'd make the funeral arrangements.
- When we've been told about a death we then collect the deceased persons belongings from the police or whoever else has them.
- We will search the address of the deceased person (if the address is known) for a will or any other documents that will tell us if they have any relatives, religious beliefs or funeral preferences.
- If details about their family and friends are found, we will be inform them about the death and ask if they'd want to make the funeral arrangements.
- If a will is found the executor (the person who will be responsible for looking after the estate when a person dies die) will be asked to make the funeral arrangements in line with the deceased person's wishes. At this point we'll take no further action.
Property and belongings of the deceased
In cases where we've arranged somebody's funeral and there's no will, no known next of kin and there are funds remaining in the deceased persons estate following payment of the funeral expenses, the estate will be referred to The Treasury Solicitor who administers the Estates of Persons who die intestate without next of kin.
All information that may be disclosed pursuant to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in relation to a deceased person is available from the Treasury Solicitors website. You can also access a list of funerals [pdf] that we arrange and/or estates that we've recently referred to The Treasury Solicitor. We currently do not send any information on deceased persons and their estates to the Land Registry.
Do you or your partner receive benefits?
If there's no other family members who could pay for the funeral and you or your partner receive benefits you may be able to get help from the Social Fund towards the cost of a funeral. The qualifying benefits are as follows:
- Income Support
- Minimum Income Support for the over 60's
- Income based job seeker's allowance
- Working Families' Tax Credit
- Disabled Person's Tax Credit
- Council Tax Benefit
- Housing Benefit
Currently the Social Fund will help pay towards the funeral directors fees. It may also pay the crematorium fee, the cost of the medical paperwork and the fee for the removal of a pacemaker. For a burial it may pay the fee for the exclusive rights of burial of a grave and the burial fee of the cheapest nearby cemetery will be paid. The Social Fund may pay for you to take up to one journey. This could be for the journey to organise the funeral or for the journey to the funeral. It cannot pay for both journeys.
Because the Social Fund may not cover all the costs you should check how much you will be entitled to before you complete the funeral arrangements. At the moment, you must claim the Social Fund within three months of the funeral and your savings will be taken into account.
You will have to repay the grant from the Social Fund if the deceased has left any money, life insurance policies or property.
Your funeral director will be able to give you more information about the Social Fund. For more information and all the relevant forms please visit the Department for Work and Pensions website or contact the Social Fund on 0800 169 0140.
Our Business Compliance team manager is responsible for overseeing public health funerals and referrals to the Treasury Solicitor or Duchy of Lancaster.