What is the cost of a ‘pauper’s funeral’ in Ipswich?

File picture of a funeral service.

File picture of a funeral service. - Credit: Archant

Over the past three years Ipswich Borough Council has spent more than £60,000 on ‘paupers’ funerals’.

These services, officially known as public health funerals, are carried out by local authorities for people who die alone or without relatives able to pay.

In Ipswich, the cost to the council for arranging one of these funerals has risen year-on-year.

In 2013/14 the average price for a service was £1,122, then £1,137 in 2014/15 and £1,157 in the last financial year.

Over this time period, the council has held 53 public health funerals, including for people as young as 38.

Steve Kemp, Ipswich Borough Council’s bereavement services manager, said: “To me everyone is entitled to a funeral, just because of the circumstances they find themselves in it shouldn’t mean they go in anything other than a dignified manner.”

Mr Kemp said the authority would try everything it could to locate the dead person’s next of kin before taking on the funeral arrangements, including searching their property for information about relatives and contacting family research companies.

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“There are people who we do find someone but they don’t want anything to do it,” he added.

“We try and exhaust every avenue we can to avoid it because at the end of the day there are costs to what we do and that in turn affects the tax-payer.”

If the dead person has a property or belongings, these will be used to repay the council.

Ipswich Borough Council saw a huge spike in demand in 2015, when it conducted 26 public health funerals. The authority held 12 in 2014 and 15 in 2016.

According to information published on the council’s website, many of the people who require these funerals are over the age of 70, and are perhaps living on their own.

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