A scheme set up to help cash-strapped Scots pay for a loved one’s funeral has received a record amount of applications – with the rise possibly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A total of 780 applications were made to Social Security Scotland in June for a Funeral Support Payment – the highest number so far
Those eligible for help currently receive an average of £1,593 to help towards the costs of a burial or cremation, including expenses such as travel and flowers.
Since the scheme was launched in September last year, more than 4,300 people have received funds – with over £6 million paid out so far.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the “growing need” for financial support following a bereavement could be “linked to the financial impact of Covid-19” – with more people now qualifying for help because they now receive Universal Credit or other benefits.
Ms Somerville said: “My thoughts are with everyone who has lost a family member or friend. Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult events any of us can face – it’s even harder when there’s extra stress trying to find the money to pay for a funeral.
“The growing need for Funeral Support Payment over the last few months could sadly be linked to the financial impact of Covid-19.
“Many more people are receiving Universal Credit or other qualifying benefits, which means they might also be eligible for Funeral Support Payment.”
She added: “I’d encourage anyone who thinks they might qualify for this important financial support to find out more and apply today. You can apply for the payment up to six months after a funeral has taken place, although if you could not apply within this timescale because of Covid-19, we’ll accept your application as on time.”
Social Security Scotland chief executive David Wallace stressed that despite coronavirus restrictions, the organisation was “committed” to getting payments to those who need them.
He added: “I am pleased that we’ve been able to protect our service and process Funeral Support Payment applications as quickly as possible – more than meeting our promise of processing within 10 working days of a completed application, once all the evidence is received.
“We are encouraging people to apply online in the first instance. For those that cannot access the online application, a limited telephone service is available where people can speak to one of our specially trained client advisers.”
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