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Pensioner’s Forum aim to combat funeral poverty in Dundee

The Pensioners Forum was told rising funeral costs is an issue facing many people across Dundee.
The Pensioners Forum was told rising funeral costs is an issue facing many people across Dundee.

Churches and community groups have come together to tackle funeral poverty in Dundee.

Charity workers, members of Dundee’s Pensioner’s Forum and clergy have become dismayed at rising costs in funeral care across the country.

Campaigners say the cost of a basic funeral service has rocketed by 93% since 2004.

It is claimed relatives are facing a post code lottery across the country when it comes to burial and cremation fees and Dundee, according to members of the city’s Pensioners Forum, has the highest cremation costs in Scotland.

A 2014 report by the Citizens Advice Bureau stated: “Case studies provided by CAB in Scotland highlight that for many the costs associated with a family member’s funeral can lead to large debts or simply being unable to afford them”.

Jackie Close, from Faith in the Community Dundee, said: “We’re at the very early stages, but we are trying to do a little bit of good.

“We’re not an official group or anything like that at this stage, we are a group of people who came together to respond to what is happening in the city.

“When the Fairness Commission was published we realised that this is something which wasn’t really touched on in a big way. The cost of funerals is ridiculous.

“One lady I worked with was told by a funeral director that she had to pay £1200 up front for a deposit, which she did not have. It just doesn’t compute with me that that is acceptable.”

Dundee Pensioner Forum secretary Gordon Samson said: “There is some concern about this.

“We have had outreach meetings with undertakers and lawyers and when it’s explained how much a funeral will cost a lot of people realise they don’t have enough.”

Mandie Lavin, chief executive of the National Association of Funeral Directors, said: “The National Association of Funeral Directors would welcome the introduction of independent regulation to the funeral planning market.

“Taking out a funeral plan can be a very important, comforting and practical step for many people, ensuring funds are set aside to cover the eventual costs of their funeral.”

The topic of funeral poverty was discussed at a meeting of the Dundee Pensioners Forum attended by Scottish health secretary Shona Robison on Friday.

The Dundee East MSP fielded questions on a number of issues including delayed hospital discharges, social isolation and pharmaceutical costs.

She told members she wants to end the culture of “people ending up in hospital by default”.

Ms Robison added that while she concedes Scotland’s NHS has its challenges, the overall picture is still positive.

The MSP described the visit to the Forum as a “useful meeting and good opportunity to listen to the view of the Pensioner’s Forum”.

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