Local MSP Christina McKelvie welcomed the news that the Scottish Government are set to increase the help available for those on low incomes to pay for funeral costs by 40%.

Last year the Funeral Support Payment (FSP) was introduced in Scotland, replacing the UK Funeral Expense Payment. Eligibility for the new Scottish benefit was significantly increased, helping lift the financial burden of paying for funerals from even more families across Scotland. More than 5000 people expected to use the benefit, with most successful applicants receiving on average £1500.

There are three components to the benefit, namely the burial/cremation costs, travel costs and a standard rate for other expenses. The last part of this is seeing the 40% increase. This will increase to £1,000.

Christina McKelvie, MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, welcomed the news:

“Families should not be landed with extra financial stress at such a difficult time in their life. It is extremely heartening to see the compassionate style of Government in Scotland delivering something which will help take some of the burden of families that find themselves bereaved.”

“This new 40% increase, coupled with our increased eligibility, means that up to 5,000 people a year will receive the Funeral Support Payment.

“This is just the latest proof that the new Scottish Social Security system has been built with fairness, dignity and respect at its heart.”

The increase has been welcomed by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

“We have fought a long campaign on this issue and have been calling for better support for people who are struggling to afford a decent funeral for their loved one,” said CAS spokesperson Jamie Stewart. “We are pleased the government has listened to our campaign.

“Bereavement is an incredibly difficult time for anyone, and the added distress of being unable to afford a funeral can be very upsetting.

“This announcement is a further step in the right direction for bereaved families but many will still find it difficult to afford a dignified funeral, so we hope to see further action on this issue in future.”

Those eligible for the Funeral Support Payment must be living in Scotland, have had the nearest relationship to the person who has died and be financially responsible for the funeral. They must also be on a qualifying benefit or tax credit – Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit.