Many Fylde families are struggling to pay funeral costs for loved ones, a debate in Parliament has been told.
Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard is now calling for more to be done to help bereaved families after it emerged the average cost of a funeral is around £3,500.
People can apply to the DWP’s Social Fund Funeral Payment scheme for help, but the process is long-winded says Mr Maynard, and average payouts are around £1,347.
Following the hour-long debate in Westminster Hall which Mr Maynard led, the MP said: “When a loved one passes away we of course want to say our goodbyes properly and I have been concerned to hear of local families who feel unable to do so because of the cost, often putting them in to debt.
“For people with low incomes an unexpected death can often leave a family in debt as the system to support families with a social fund funeral payment is not perfect and often takes too long to assess.
“Funeral directors are either left out of pocket or have to chase up a debt from a bereaved family.
“I called the debate as I wanted the government to look at some way to make the system fairer.”
Funeral director Stephen Box, of Blackpool-based Box Brothers, said many families struggled to pay.
He said: “Every funeral director asks for a certain percentage prior to the funeral and people in this position aren’t able to pay it.
“Meanwhile the DWP does not regard a clergyman or a church service as essential.
“People usually only receive a maximum of £700 towards funeral costs which is about half the cost for a normal, dignified funeral.
“Most people don’t want something flashy, they just want to give their loved one a decent send off without finding themselves in debt.”
Mr Maynard has asked ministers to simplify the process for obtaining Social Fund Funeral Payments.
He also wants improved data collection, and clearer information about which elements of a funeral will be covered.
Processing times should be reduced, he added, so families know what they can afford.