Public health funerals
We have a duty to arrange for the cremation or burial of any person who dies or is found dead in our area, where it appears that no funeral arrangements are being made, or are likely to be made. We usually arrange funerals for people who have died without family, or without family who are willing or able to make arrangements.
If the deceased has died outside of the our area, then it will need to be referred to the local authority in that area to arrange the funeral.
If the person dies in hospital, the NHS Trust may make the funeral arrangements, in accordance with their polices.
We cannot accept part payment for funerals that we organise, or contribute to the costs of funerals organised by others.
The Funeral Expenses Payment scheme is administered by the government, and can help pay for a funeral you are arranging if you are in receipt of certain benefits.
Freedom of Information requests
Due to the amount of Freedom of Information requests that we receive regarding public health funerals, we publish the information online.
The information details the names of deceased persons for whom we organised a funeral for, as per the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
What funeral arrangements are made?
We will arrange and pay for a simple but dignified funeral, to minimise the cost to the local taxpayer.
Public health funerals will be cremations unless:
- the deceased is known to be part of a religion that forbids cremation
- the deceased has left a Will or a signed, written statement expressing their wish to be buried
Public health burials will take place in a common or public grave, unless the deceased owned a grave.
We will choose the funeral director, who will provide a coffin and bear the deceased to the crematorium or cemetery with dignity. We will choose the date and time of the funeral and will endeavour to communicate with family and friends.
The use of a minister or celebrant, flowers or obituaries are not included in the arrangements made for a public funded funeral, and as such there will be no funeral ceremony. No grave marker or other memorial to the deceased will be erected.
Collecting the ashes
Following a cremation, the ashes will normally be scattered at the crematorium’s Garden of Remembrance.
In certain circumstances, the ashes may be given to a close family member or friend. They will need to make arrangements with us, to collect the ashes from the crematorium.
The crematorium will need to see proof of identification before you can collect the ashes.
If family members or friends cannot agree on who the ashes should be released to, we will make arrangements for the ashes to be scattered in the crematorium gardens.
Property and belongings of the deceased person
The property will be made secure, and any keys or personal property (belonging to the deceased) that friends and family have, should be handed in for safekeeping. All property should be recorded, and handed into our Environmental Protection team. We will then issue a receipt.
If the deceased left furniture or other belongings, we are not able to make arrangements for these to be sorted through. The cost of clearing the property is normally met by the estate.
You should not clear anything from the home of the deceased unless you are legally allowed to do so.
If the deceased person's belongings are not worth anything in monetary value and the property was rented, the landlord is responsible for recovering the property and dealing with the contents.
How does the Council recover the cost of the funeral?
Under legislation, the funeral costs are the first expenses claimed on any estate. We are entitled to collect any and all sums of money due to or belonging to the deceased - and to sell any belongings of the deceased, to help offset the costs of the funeral and expenses.
We are entitled to recover costs, but we don't have the power to administer the estate.
If - after we have deducted funeral and administration costs - the remaining estate is over £500 and there is no evidence of a valid Will (and there is no known next of kin), we will refer the estate to the Government Legal Department. This is in accordance with their ‘Bona Vacantia’ estates guidance