To receive a report from the Head of Housing and Property Services informing members of the Council’s proposed procedure when dealing with a National Assistance burials.
The Group had before it a report * from the Head of Housing and Property Services informing members of the Council’s proposed procedure when dealing with a National Assistance burial.
The Bereavement and Open Spaces Advisor explained that National Assistance Burials had been arranged by the Bereavement Services section over a number of years without a written procedure but with an increase in the number of requests for funerals and with consideration to budgetary restrictions it was considered prudent to formalise the current procedure.
The Officer explained that National Assistance Burials were sometimes referred to as “Paupers” Funerals. Mid Devon may be informed by the Exeter Coroner’s Office, a Nursing Home, Housing Association or a relative or friend when a resident of the district had died and there was no one prepared or able to make arrangements for the deceased’s funeral.
The number of National Assistance burials carried out by Mid Devon had steadily increased over the past decade and there had been 17 since 2006.
Mid Devon had a statutory duty to ‘cause to be buried or cremated the body of any person who has died or been found dead within the district where it appears to the authority that no suitable arrangements for the disposal of the body have been or are being made otherwise than by the authority’.
It was proposed that all National Assistance funerals arranged by Mid Devon be by interment in either Crediton or Tiverton Cemetery, unless specific instructions had been left by the deceased. Burial plots within these cemeteries were double depth and had the capacity for two coffins, this would result in unrelated persons being buried in the same grave.
The officer explained that a will may state the preference to be buried in a family plot and that this would be complied with as long as the difference in cost could be paid by a relative or if there were sufficient funds in the deceased’s bank account. If a will stated a preference for cremation this would be complied with but only a ‘non service service’ would be provided.
The current funeral director employed by Mid Devon was Le Roy Funerals who had offices in Exeter and Crediton. Le Roy Funerals won the contract in open competition between all the undertakers on the council’s approved contractors list.
The officer further explained that in advance of arranging a National Assistance Burial a genealogical search would always be carried out, this would ensure that any next of kin were aware of their relatives’ death and that they were offered the opportunity to make the necessary funeral arrangements.
Discussion took place regarding:
· Family members in receipt of benefit could make a claim for financial assistance to help pay for the funeral of a family member;
· The most recent funeral paid for by the authority cost £1378 which included a cremation;
· If there was any residual money belonging to the deceased it was sent to the Treasury Solicitor.
It was AGREED that reference to individual employee names should be removed from the report and be replaced by post names and contact numbers and that reference to Devon County Council care homes should be removed.
It was RECOMMENDED, that subject to minor amendments to the report regarding contact names and numbers,Cabinet recommend that Council approve the National Assistance Burial Procedure.
(Proposed by Cllr R Wright and seconded by Cllr Mrs C P Daw)
The Chairman took this opportunity to thank Adrian Cook, Bereavement and Open Spaces Advisor, for the work he had undertaken with the Group over a number of years and wished him well for the future.
Note: - Report previously circulated and attached to Minutes.