Criticism over Doncaster Council's decision to charge grieving families to have loved one's ashes returned after pauper's funeral

Doncaster Council has been criticised for charging grieving families for the return of a loved one's ashes following a public health funeral.

Friday, 10th January 2020, 12:06 pm
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 3:44 pm

The services, also known as a ‘pauper’s funeral’, are carried out by councils of the deceased when there is no traceable family, or the family is unable or unwilling to arrange and pay for a funeral.

But information shows that DMBC is one of 18 councils across the UK that charges people for ashes to be returned if requested.

Unlike some councils, DMBC do allow family members to attend.

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Doncaster Council has been criticised for charging grieving relatives to have the ashes of their loved ones returned to them

DMBC bosses said prices start at £18 for ashes to be returned.

Previous figures show Doncaster Council has spent over £500,000 on public health funerals between 2014 and 2018.

During the 2017/2018 financial year, DMBC had the third highest spent on public health funerals spending almost £100,000 - only behind Birmingham and Manchester.

Councils in England spent £6.3 million on public health funerals during 2018/2019, with an average cost of around £1,500 per service.

Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert at Royal London who compiled the data, said: “It’s incredibly sad when bereaved families have no choice but to seek a public health funeral.

“But when some families are refused the ashes of their loved ones or are not even allowed to attend the funeral, it is clear that they are being treated unfairly.

It’s about time the system was overhauled, and we’re calling for legislation on minimum standards for public health funerals to ensure everyone can, at the very least, attend a funeral and collect their loved one’s ashes.”

Debbie Hogg, director of corporate resources, said: “We understand that this is a very difficult time for family members and we will support them by ensuring their deceased relative receives the dignified funeral they deserve.

“We do not charge families for a public health funeral and once cremation has taken place, there is no charge if the family decides to have the ashes scattered without appointment in our grounds at Rose Hill.

“If the family wish to take the ashes away, we do want these to be handed over in a dignified and respectable way so there are several options for a container, which start at just £18.”