Funeral Poverty — [Sir David Amess in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:51 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Labour, South Shields 4:51 pm, 13th October 2015

It is a real pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David; I thank you for allowing me to sit through the debate. I congratulate Paul Maynard on securing the debate. Funeral debt affects a growing number of people, but the private nature of grief and the social pressure to provide a decent send-off means that those people do not always have a voice. One of the things that we should always do in this place is speak up for the voiceless so the hon. Gentleman has done those people a great service by calling this debate today.

Perhaps like other hon. Members, the issue first came to my attention through a constituent who had got into serious debt paying for their brother’s funeral. At the time, I assumed that such cases were relatively rare but, sadly, that is not the case. More than 100,000 people are living with funeral debt, while others struggle to meet the costs, end up selling their possessions, or turn to friends or family to cover the cost. These debts are significant. Royal London’s national funeral cost index shows that the average debt is £1,318.