A HELENSBURGH funeral director has given his backing to a new benefit giving help to people on low incomes who are struggling with the costs of a funeral.

The Funeral Support Payment is available to people in Scotland who are on certain benefits or tax credits.

You don’t have to apply immediately; you can claim up until six months after the day of the funeral.

The payment is delivered by Social Security Scotland and has replaced the Funeral Expense Payment, previously administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), for people living in Scotland.

Jim Auld at James Auld Funeral Directors in Helensburgh said: “The new Funeral Support Payment from Social Security Scotland aims to treat families with dignity, fairness and respect.

“This payment will take away money worries for a lot of families who are struggling at a very difficult time.

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“It will cover some of the major costs of a funeral and allows people to give their loved ones a dignified funeral.”

The changes mean around 40 per cent more people will be eligible for financial support at the point of bereavement.

People will be able to apply over the phone, by post or online for the first time.

Mr Auld, who is also president of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, the UK-wide trade body, added: “I think as funeral directors we should be doing our best to ensure that anyone who is entitled to this support is getting it.

“If any of our clients let us know that they are struggling to pay for the funeral, we would give them the Funeral Support Payment leaflet and encourage them to apply.”

As with all Scottish Government benefits, Funeral Support Payment has been developed with input from those with experience of the present DWP system.

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This has helped identify parts of the DWP application process that people currently find difficult or distressing, helping us improve our new process and remove barriers to apply.

Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most tragic events any of us can face. At that difficult time, it’s even harder when there’s extra stress finding the money to pay for a funeral.

“Our new Funeral Support Payment has been designed and tested with members of the public and stakeholders including funeral directors and welfare advisors to ensure the end product is one we can be proud of.

“The new support will reach far more people struggling with funeral costs and is backed by around £2 million additional funding.

“The flat rate element of the Funeral Support Payment will be £700 for the majority of applications, and we have committed to annually uprating this in line with inflation – something the UK Government have not done since 2003.

“This is a demand-led benefit and forecasts are that we will invest more than £6 million in support in the first full year of operation.

"And, as with the Best Start Grant, we will encourage people to apply and get this financial support.”

To find out more you can visit mygov.scot/funeral-support-payment/ or call 0800 182 2222 to speak to a trained advisor who can help you make your application.

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