Funeral Costs (Support)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 12th September 2019.

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Photo of Richard Lyle Richard Lyle Scottish National Party

4. To ask the First Minister what support the Scottish Government is providing to people struggling to meet funeral costs. (S5F-03537)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

From next Monday, we will start providing funeral support payments, which will provide people on low incomes with much-needed help with the cost of arranging a funeral. As with all Scottish benefits, we have simplified the process and removed barriers to applying for payments. We have also made changes to eligibility, so that around 40 per cent more people will be able to access support than would receive help under the predecessor United Kingdom Government scheme.

The funeral support payment complements work that the Government has undertaken to tackle funeral poverty, including our guidance on funeral costs, which encourages providers to make the cost of their services more transparent and accessible.

Photo of Richard Lyle Richard Lyle Scottish National Party

I welcome what is being done.

This month marks the first anniversary of Social Security Scotland. It is clear what a positive difference the Scottish Government has made by using its new powers over social security, especially when we compare the approach in Scotland with the UK system that it replaces.

That is welcome, but does the First Minister think that the Scottish Government will always be limited in what it can achieve while the majority of powers remain in the hands of an incompetent and uncaring Government at Westminster, which is entirely distracted by Brexit chaos?

The First Minister:

Richard Lyle is absolutely correct; in Scotland many people are receiving financial support who would not be receiving support if the Scottish Government had not taken responsibility for those benefits. We are demonstrating, day in and day out, in practical and tangible terms, the value of powers lying in the hands of a democratically elected Scottish Parliament, and not in the hands of a Westminster Government, particularly a Tory Westminster Government.

It is common sense to look at the experience of our delivery of benefits so far and come to the conclusion—if one was not already of this view, as of course I was—that the sooner we have the entirety of welfare decisions in the hands of this Parliament and out of the hands of a Tory Westminster Government, the better for all of us.