The number of public health funerals have been found to be increasing in 2021 and 2022.

Public health funerals are provided by Local Authorities for people who have passed away and have no next-of-kin, or whose relatives or friends are unable or unwilling to make the necessary arrangements for a funeral. In cases where no arrangements have been made for the disposal of the body, it is a legal required for the Local Authority to pay for a funeral of a person who has died in their area.

Romford Recorder found the number of public health funerals was significantly higher in Havering throughout 2020/21 compared to all three years prior. According to data from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the council recorded 40 in 2020/21 while the pandemic was prevalent, which is a significant increase on the years prior which recorded 24 in 2019/20, 21 in 2018/19 and 20 in 2017/18.

Yorkshire Live reported a similar trend with new data revealing over a thousand people have been buried or cremated in Yorkshire in public health funerals in the last five years. Bradford, Doncaster and Wakefield councils have funded or partially funded four children’s funerals between them. Bradford accounts for two of these funerals while Doncaster and Wakefield have one each.

Among Yorkshire’s 1,232 public health funerals in the past five years, Bradford has the highest number in the region at 288, which equates to roughly a quarter.

Furthermore, reports of public health funerals increasing in Barrow have also been reported by The Mail. It is thought that more than £75,000 has been spent by the council on funerals in the last ten years, with the youngest person to have one being 31 years old. A Barrow Borough Council spokesperson said “Barrow Borough Council has a duty to make funeral arrangements for individuals that have died with no known next-of-kin. This responsibility falls under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 section 46(1).”

Fraser and Fraser support the public sector with assistance of tracing next-of-kin, we understand the steps required in arranging a public funeral. By referring your case to us, we can trace next-of-kin at no extra cost to the local authority. Even if it seems like there is no one, there is almost always someone and we’ll start searching immediately. If we are able to make an agreement with the next-of-kin, and therefore have authority to handle the estate, we can then take the rest of your responsibilities off your hands.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing info@fraserandfraser.co.uk or call us on 020 7382 1400.