Funeral Payment and Funeral Poverty Reference Group minutes: March 2016

Minutes of the Funeral Payment and Funeral Poverty Reference Group meeting held on 14 March 2016.

Attendees and apologies


  • John Birrell, Scottish Working Group on Funeral Poverty
  • Jamie Bowman, Low Income Benefits Unit, Scottish Government
  • Jim Brodie, SAIF
  • Simon Cox, Royal London
  • Paul Cuthell, NAFD
  • Mel Giarchi, Social Security Research, Scottish Government
  • Colin Hunter, Renfrewshire Council
  • Bryan Kerr, Church of Scotland
  • Kirsty Le Grice, Low Income Benefits Unit, Scottish Government
  • Richard Meade, Marie Curie
  • Kirsteen Macleod, Low Income Benefits Unit, Scottish Government
  • Graeme McAusland, Funeral Planning Authority
  • Dorothy Ogle, Low Income Benefits Unit, Scottish Government
  • Caroline Pretty, NHS Lothian
  • Bill Stanley, ICCM
  • Garrick Smyth, COSLA
  • Fraser Sutherland, CAS
  • Glenda Watt, SOPA


  • Dr Salah Beltagui, Muslim Council of Scotland
  • David Hilferty, Money Advice Scotland
  • Heather Kennedy, Quaker Social Action
  • David Toner, Social Security Research, Scottish Government
  • Clare Tucker, NHS Education for Scotland
  • Stewart Wilson, CRUSE

Items and actions

Key points and actions from the discussion at the meeting:

  • A take up campaign for DWP’s funeral payment could maximise the resources that are transferred to the Scottish Government through the fiscal framework agreement. Scottish Government (SG) to consider as part of advice to incoming Ministers.

  • Encouraging the conversation around death and dying will be challenging. We agreed that a core narrative on the advantages of planning ahead and what the options are would be a useful tool. This could be used to prompt conversations with people who are approaching life events and situations which make them more likely to be thinking about planning (e.g. marriage, house purchase, birth of a child, retirement, organising a funeral for a relative). This might also be linked to the funeral wishes form recommended in the report. SG will provide an outline of this and bring it to the group for comment and further discussion. Please contact us if you would like to be involved in developing the outline.

  • We agreed three likely topics for round table discussions with incoming Ministers, subject to their wanting to progress these. These were

    • burial and cremation costs,
    • the funeral payment
    • advice and support for people who are not able to pay for a funeral.
  • The Scottish Working Group on Funeral Poverty is starting to look at the funeral wishes document. Please send any examples you area aware of to John Birrell.

  • We agreed that, again subject to incoming ministers wishing to continue with current commitments, the national conference on funeral poverty would ideally be developed in partnership. It should include some personal experiences to highlight the issues. The group is in a good position to agree the agenda and source content so the main things that we need to consider are the venue and event management function. Scottish Government Buildings are a possibility and we will explore this. If your organisation would like to contribute to resource to conference organisation or if you know other organisations that might, please get in touch and we can keep a log of interest.

  • The SG team will follow up on a variety of points raised e.g.

    • links between the provisions in the Burial and Cremations Scotland Bill and the proposed new wishes form,
    • the unit on Rites of Passage in the national curriculum at secondary school level.
    • Explore the potential for data from the Voices survey to form part of our evaluation,
    • any opportunities created by the community empowerment act.
  • The vast majority of attendees expressed an interest in being in a stakeholder group to feed in views on the new funeral payment. SG will add CPAG to the list.

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