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The manager of a north Liverpool credit union recently told me that the most shocking fallout of the recession and austerity was the sheer volume of people calling because they were unable to bury their loved ones.

“People call from the hospital, because they can’t pay the £1,000 to get the undertakers to release the body,” she said. “And these people, they’re under 50. That’s no age to die.”

The sharp rise in funeral poverty is one of the grimmer trends in our unequal island: in the past decade, funeral costs have risen by 80%. Wages simply haven’t. The average funeral now costs £3,163 nationally, and £4,836 in London.

If you’re on a low income, the cost of a sudden death is far beyond your modest means, and life insurance can seem like an unnecessary luxury when you’re struggling to heat your home and feed your children.

The families who contact Quaker Social Action (QSA), a small charity which offer advice on funeral poverty through its “Down to Earth” scheme, aren’t seeking a lavish send-off for their loved ones, just the ability to bury them at all.

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source: The Guardian
published: 9 June 2015

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