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Revealed: The £57,000 cost of 'paupers funerals' in Wolverhampton

Dudley | News | Published:

Nearly 50 'paupers' funerals' have been arranged in Wolverhampton in the last year alone - costing the council a total of £57,850.

Up and down the country local authorities have a duty under public health law to dispose of bodies where the deceased died alone or there are no relatives able to pay.

The funerals involve a basic service before the deceased is cremated or buried.

Between April 2015 and March this year, Wolverhampton council arranged 47 such funerals, which are commonly known as paupers' funerals.

The total cost to the authority was £57,850 with prices for individual funerals ranging from £1, 044 to £1,570.

The average cost of a funeral over the last financial year was £1,231.

Wolverhampton council has a contract with Co-operative Funeralcare to undertake paupers' funerals on its behalf.

The contract with the Co-operative is for three years and was awarded to the firm following a tender exercise.

Commenting on the varying costs to the council of arranging paupers' funerals, a spokesman explained there were several factors.

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Spokesman, Paul Brown, said: "The costs vary according to whether the coroner is involved or if a doctor signs a medical cause of death certificate.

"Burials are more expensive than cremations and cost £1,490."

Details of the funerals were revealed by the council following a Freedom of Information request.

Of the 47 funerals which took place in the last financial year, the body was cremated in all but one, when it was buried.

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Over the same 12 month period, Dudley Council arranged 44 public health funerals. In 11 of the funerals the deceased had no next of kin.

That marked a 19 percent decrease on the 2014/15 financial year when the authority funded 58 public health funerals.

At the time the council's cabinet member for adult and community services suggested the high demand for pauper's funerals may reflect the fact that many people were struggling financially.

In 2013/14 there had been just 29 paupers' funerals across the borough.

That year council bosses hiked the cost of cremations by seven per cent as part of its savings plan.

Dudley Council is the only authority in the Black Country and Staffordshire to routinely publish details of pauper's funerals.

Earlier this year Co-operative Funeralcare signed up to a new campaign aimed at tackling the rising cost of funerals where relatives are able to foot the bill.

It agreed to display a full range of prices online and at its funeral homes, one of the aims of the Fair Funerals campaign.

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