Cost of funerals for people who die alone exceeds £70,000 in four years in Hammersmith and Fulham

The cost of paupers’ funerals has reached a four year high in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Since 2012, the figure has dipped up and down, but last year the costs of what are also known as public health funerals reached its highest point at £18,000, almost double the amount spent the previous year (2014/15).

And with more than four months left of the financial year of 2016/17, the most recent figures point to a continuing escalating trend with £17,089.

Over the past four years, Hammersmith and Fulham has seen the amount it spends on Public Health Funerals rise by 60% – way above the national average, which has seen a 30% rise to a total of £1.7 million.

Public Health Funerals are arranged at the council or hospital’s expense when people die with no known next of kin or nobody willing to pay .

According to the latest figures, an average of 28 people in Hammersmith and Fulham borough die with no will, known as intestate, and with no known next of kin each year.

Over the past seven months 11 men have died intestate compared to six women, with almost three quarters aged over 65.

The figures, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, also indicate a rise in the cost of funerals over recent years.

The average cost of the ceremony has more than trebled from £315 in 2012/13 to £1,005 in 2016/17.

The findings were revealed by Finders International, which is setting up a new fund to help pay for public health funerals.

Finders International is a heir-hunting company whose managing director, Daniel Curran, stars on the BBC Heir Hunters programme.

Local authorities can apply to the Finders International Funeral Fund for a subsidy towards the cost of their Public Health Funerals.

This will be in cases were there genuinely is no surviving next of kin – rather than next of kin refusing to pay.

Finders International will carry out research for free to confirm this.

Mr Curran said: “It is an unfortunate part of our society that increasing numbers of people are dying alone and this also leaves the responsibility of arranging and funding the funeral to the local authority or hospital.

“The Funeral Fund can help significantly with finance, while also confirming whether or not there are next of kin – free of charge.

“As part of the service we advise the deceased’s neighbours and friends about the funeral in advance in case they wish to attend.

“It can also save the council or NHS trust involved a lot of time and, of course, provides access to our professional tracing resources.”

Finders International created the Funeral Fund by donating a percentage of the commission it earns from its next of kin tracing service.

The heir hunter company has also deposited £20,000 to launch the service, and pledged to donate a minimum of £10,000 for every subsequent year.