Public health funerals
A public health funeral is the cremation or burial of someone who has died, usually alone, is unclaimed and often without funds to provide for their own funeral.
Public health funerals are also known as national assistance funerals and paupers' funerals.
The council's role
The council complies with national legislation on public health funerals.
Under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, we have a duty to make arrangements for the funeral or cremation of the body of anyone who has died or is found dead in the Borough, where it is established after investigation that there is no alternative course of action.
Where possible we will recover funeral expenses from monies available from the deceased's estate.
If a person dies without a known next of kin, we normally act on written instructions received from the local coroner's office.
Where we are notified of a death and no one has come forward to make the funeral arrangements, we will do what we can to trace next of kin and try to establish the religious beliefs or funeral preferences of the deceased.
At a public health funeral
If no one is prepared to arrange the funeral we will take responsibility for making the arrangements. This includes:
- registration of the death
- instructing a funeral director to collect the body
- providing a coffin
- transporting the deceased to the Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium by private ambulance
A time will be allocated within the crematorium chapel for family and friends to pay their respects. The cremation or burial will normally be held first thing in the morning and unless a service has been arranged the coffin will be laid in the Chapel for 10 minutes to allow anyone to attend and pay their respects. When a burial is arranged the coffin will be taken straight to grave and again a period of normally not less than 10 minutes allowed for those wishing to pay their respects to do so.
Anyone with an interest in attending may contact the staff at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium for further information.
There is no charge for this.
Arranging a service
If friends or family of the deceased would like a short service, they should contact the staff at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium to find out the costs and make the necessary arrangements.
Burial or cremation
Unless there is evidence that the deceased would have wanted to be buried then we will make arrangements for a cremation. Burials or cremations will take place at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium.
Whether a burial or cremation, time will be allowed for family and friends to pay their respects.
In carrying out its legal duty the council does not provide for a service as part of the cremation or burial. If anyone wishes to arrange for a minister or officiant to take the service they will be able to do so at their own expense. All we ask is that they liaise with the staff at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium who will give advice on how best to make the arrangements.
For a burial a service can be held by arrangement at the graveside. Anyone wanting to know more should contact the staff at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium.
The cremated remains of the deceased will normally be scattered in the Gardens of Remembrance unless other specific instructions are found amongst the deceased’s possessions or in a will. The remains will be held only at the crematorium awaiting scattering for a period of 3 months after the date of cremation.
Any costs associated with specific instructions must be met through the deceased's estate or by family members or friends.
If friends of the deceased would like to attend and say a few words during the scattering, then this can be arranged by them if they contact the staff at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium. There is no charge for this.
Where the council has a request from a family member or anyone who can evidence a relationship then the ashes will be released into their care. Ashes must be collected from the crematorium. It is not possible to arrange for remains to be couriered without full payment in advance.
Payment for the funeral
The cost of the funeral is usually met out of the estate of the deceased. If there are insufficient funds the executor is personally liable.
Where the deceased has not left a will the person arranging the funeral is liable to meet the funeral costs. This is normally the next of kin.
If the next of kin is unable to arrange and pay for the funeral (for example, where there are insufficient funds in the estate) they will be asked to make a written statement to confirm that they are not able to do this.
Funeral payments from the Social Fund
Where the next of kin accepts responsibility but cannot afford the cost and receives certain benefits or tax credits, then they may be entitled to a funeral payment from the Social Fund. You can find more information about funeral payments on GOV.UK.
There are ways to help reduce costs, for example, the main cost of a funeral is the cost of using an undertaker. Our staff at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium are always willing to discuss options and we would urge anyone finding themselves in this situation to get in contact with the crematorium.
Dealing with such situations is not easy and never straight forward so we therefore consider the facts of each case before making decisions.
Property and personal effects
If the deceased left furniture or other personal effects, arrangements will be made to dispose of these items. If possible, property is sold and the money offset against the cost of the funeral.
When all costs are known we inform the Treasury Solicitor under rules set down by the Secretary of State.
For information about cases referred to the Treasury Solicitor please see GOV.UK - Bona Vacantia.