Northern Ireland councils spend thousands on ‘paupers’ funerals’

Local authorities provide 'no frills' funerals
Local authorities provide 'no frills' funerals

Nearly £5.4 million was spent on “paupers’ funerals” by UK local authorities in the financial year 2017-18, a mutual insurer has found.

There were at least 23 such funerals held in Northern Ireland in the past two years, according to responses from six of Northern Ireland’s 11 local councils, Royal London said.

The total cost of public health funerals across the UK in 2017-18 was £5,382,379, according to Royal London, which received responses from 275 local authorities to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

For the six Northern Ireland councils who responded, the total cost was £13,411 during the same financial year.

Public health funerals, which are also known as paupers’ funerals, are “no frills” services provided by the local authority, which in general include a coffin and the services of a funeral director but do not include flowers, obituaries or transport for family members.

Families can attend if they wish.

The Northern Ireland councils who responded with figures for the past two financial years were: Ards and North Down Borough Council (seven funerals at a cost of £4,173); Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council (two funerals at a cost of £770); Belfast City Council (nine funerals at a cost of £12,839); Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (one funeral at a cost of £910); Newry and Mourne District Council (three funerals with total costs undisclosed); Mid Ulster Council (one funeral at a cost of £995).

The amount spent by local authorities on public health funerals across the UK in 2017-18 increased by 3.5% compared with 2016-17, according to the research, based on those councils who provided data for both financial years.