A growing number of Angus families are turning to taxpayers to meet all the costs of a pauper’s funeral.
Requests are slowly increasing to bury loved ones in paupers’ graves because they are unable or unwilling to pay for a burial or cremation.
Among those who could not or would not pay was the family of a 34-year-old Angus drug addict whose body was found in a flat after he died of an overdose.
Public health funerals are no-frills services and do not include flowers, viewings, obituaries or transport for family members.
In 2016 there were seven funerals costing £8,333; seven in 2017 costing £9,216; nine in 2018 costing £12,757; and three costing £4,061 up until March this year, which is the latest available figures for 2019.
North East region Conservative MSP Bill Bowman has urged local people to think carefully about their own arrangements, rather than leaving it to a loved one.
He said: “It’s only human nature that we don’t like to think about mortality and getting older.
“But this information shows it is never too young to consider the impact having no arrangements will have on family and friends.
“A number of people I speak to in pensioners’ forums are conscious of how much arrangements have increased in price.
“In the past, the local authority would have picked up a lot of the costs of these funerals but I don’t think these no-frills funerals will represent the kind of send-off many people would want.
“The Money Advice Service has excellent, free guidance on low-cost means that offer peace of mind.”
The ages of those who received a public health funeral in Angus since 2016 range from 33 to 86 with males buried in 18 of the 25 cases.
Still widely known as paupers’ funerals or welfare funerals, the deceased is given a simple service before being cremated or buried in a communal grave, depending on what is available locally.
Often the body is transported in a van rather than a hearse and the service is conducted in a vacant slot, such as early in the morning, at a local crematorium or cemetery chapel.
Councils across the UK spent nearly £5.4m on “paupers’ funerals” in 2017-18 it has been revealed.
A Freedom of Information request, by insurance company Royal London, found 275 local authorities spent £5,382,379 on public health funerals in the 12 months up to April 2018.
Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert at insurance company Royal London, warned that the cuts local authorities are facing are causing an increase in burial fees.
She said: “Local authorities are raising burial and cremation fees as they face cuts in funding from central government.
“This is one of the key drivers of funeral cost inflation and ultimately results in an increase in the number of public health funerals local councils have to perform, as bereaved families are unable to pay for their loved one’s send off.”
Paupers’ funerals were previously reserved for those suffering extreme destitution in Dickensian England.
In response to a freedom of information request, a spokeswoman for Angus Council said: “Over the last four years we have only carried out a few public health funerals where we have been unable to trace any next of kin.
“Requests for public health funerals have increased slowly over the last 10 years.”