DWP announce changes to funeral payments

The Department for Works and Pensions, DWP, announced today, 17th July 2019, that there will be changes made to the way it handles funeral expenses payments, which should help grieving families get help to meet funeral costs. The press release states that "Previously, a Funeral Expense Payment claim could not be processed without a confirmed date for the funeral to take place, which could lead to longer waiting times for payments to be processed. Today we’re announcing a change, where families…

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Public Health Funerals – Property and Squatters

Several authorities have recently remarked about issues surrounding properties occupied by Squatters when having to undertake a Public Health Funeral. Since 2012 it has been a criminal offence to squat in residential properties, with a fine of up to £5000 and a six month prison sentence being the maximum fine imposed. Squatting in a non residential property is not illegal, though it is a criminal offence to cause damage to that property. Advice on the Government Website - Gov.uk - is that…

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PHA Funerals – “Unfit for purpose”

The legislation that gives local authorities the statutory powers to carry out funerals is not fit for purpose. That’s what council officers told us at the second Finders International Public Health Act Funerals conference, which took place on 2nd May this year, and was attended by representatives of councils from all over England and Wales. The legislation, which has been in place for more than thirty years, does not consider how attitudes have changed towards funerals in society and how we…

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New National Assistance for Funerals?

Funding a funeral assistance programme through National Insurance contributions was one suggestion from council officers whom discussed the ongoing issues with Public Health Act Funerals at the Finders International sponsored conference in Birmingham. Delegates discussed the subject of service provision and what should or shouldn’t be provided by local authorities. It was clear that practices differ across the country with some authorities opting for cremation, whilst others undertake burials.…

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CMA to carry out further investigation of Funeral market

The Competition and Marketing Authority have announced that they will be undertaking an "in-depth" market investigation into the Funerals sector. This follows the publication of its interim report in November 2018 and it's subsequent public consultation as reported on this site in early March. The CMA report that the vast majority of responses were positive but they still have their concerns over the effectiveness of competition. The investigation will focus on the supply of funeral and…

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Still referring to the GLD?

Barrister disagrees with legal analysis in Anglia Research Local Authority Report on referrals by Local Authorities to the GLD Advice obtained by Finders International from Barrister James Neill of Landmark Chambers, finds that: Local authorities have the power to refer details of an individual who has died intestate without known next of kin to probate research company; There is no obligation in any guidance issued by the BVD which requires local authorities to refer unclaimed estates to the…

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Why are Local Authorities lumbered with caretaking properties?

With housing stock in short supply and Councils’ budgets under pressure, Danny Curran of Finders International says the Government is sitting on hundreds of empty dwellings while leaving local councils with the bill of maintenance. In my line of business, as a professional probate genealogist, I am often asked: What happens to ‘ownerless properties’ i.e. when there is no next of kin to inherit them? In these situations the property reverts to the Crown, or in reality to the Bona Vacantia…

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Statutory regulation for the Funeral Industry draws closer

As reported on the Funeral Service Times website, the National Association of Funeral Directors have given their backing to tighter regulation of the industry following the Competition and Marketing Authority's investigation into practice in the funeral industry. However they oppose any form of price regulation as mentioned in the CMA's interim report last November, stating that "price caps will do nothing to assist funeral affordability for the poorest in society". Read more in the article on…

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Changes to Grants of Probate Certificates

From today (Monday 4th March) HMCTS will be issuing new style Grant of Probate certificates, old style certificates will still be valid. The new certificates have counter-fraud measures designed to clamp down on misuse of the forms. These include the addition of a hologram, a digital seal, a digital signature and a validation telephone number for people to call. Click on the link below to see what has changed and what to expect from the new forms. HMCTS Guide to New Grants

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Rise in Public Health Funerals puts even greater pressure on hard pressed local authorities

A recent survey of 70% of local authorities revealed that almost £5.5m was spent on Public Health Funerals in the year ending April 2018.  During this period in excess of 3,800 people received a Public Health Act (PHA) funeral from a local authority. Almost a third of these funerals were arranged as a result of bereaved families not being able to afford the cost of the funeral. 275 of 390 authorities responded to the survey, conducted by Royal London, meaning that a further 30% of local…

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