Royal London comments on the Social Fund annual report 2013 to 2014
11 February 2015
Commenting on the Social Fund annual report 2013 to 2014, published by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Simon Cox, from Royal London, said:
“This new data reveals some interesting trends. For example, the number of people awarded the Social Fund Funeral Payment is consistently decreasing, which indicates to us that fewer people received the financial support they need. Meanwhile, the data also reveals an anomaly: application levels were fairly consistent from 2007 to 2012 but then we see a notable decrease over the past four years. We are curious about this sudden drop in applications. It defies the findings of other research: the number of people struggling to pay for the cost of funerals is increasing.
“Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index confirms funeral poverty now affects almost 110,000 people in the UK, with the total value of funeral debt amounting to £142m. The outdated Social Fund Funeral Payment system is a key factor here. It’s an incredibly important state safety net, but increasingly inadequate. It’s being devalued in real terms because the gap between the average award and the true cost of a funeral to a customer has more than doubled in the last 10 years. However in Parliament, Steve Webb, MP admitted that the average award has only increased by 32% over a similar period.
“We believe the Social Fund Funeral Payment system needs a full and fundamental review. In order to prevent further devaluation its cap of £700 (in place to meet ‘other funeral expenses’ including Funeral Directors and Ministers Costs) should be index-linked - adjusted in line with inflation, to reflect current UK living costs.”
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Note to editors:
- Social Fund annual report 2013 to 2014:www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-fund-annual-report-2013-to-2014
- Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index: www.royallondon.com/Documents/PDFs/Reports/2758_Royal_London_Funeral_cost_index_2014.pdf
- Royal London is the UK’s largest mutual life, pensions and investment company, with Group funds under management of £78.4bn. Group businesses serve around 5.3m customers and employ 2,823 people (as of 30 September 2014). The Group is currently moving all of its businesses under a new version of the Royal London brand.
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