Northern Ireland joins benefit uplift


Struggling bereaved families across the UK can now benefit from enhanced financial support, as the planned uplift in the value of funeral benefit took effect in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. As of 8 April, the maximum entitlement increased from £700 to £1,000 – a 43% uplift, and the first funeral benefit increase since 2003.

With devolution only restored to Stormont on 11 January after a three-year deadlock, Northern Ireland was the last part the UK to commit to a real terms uplift in funeral benefit, but Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey announced the Executive’s commitment to matching the uplift seen elsewhere in the UK in early April.

Funeral Expense Assistance (FEA) in England and Wales, Funeral Expense Payments (FEP) in Scotland, and Funeral Support Payments (FSP) in Northern Ireland all cover burial and cremation fees in full, with no cap on contributions. However, unlike burial and cremation fees, funeral director fees are not a statutory cost covered by either benefit. The ‘other expenses’ element is a discretionary fund, from which the recipient must cover several costs, including church fees and the cost of purchasing a coffin, as well as funeral director fees.

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions, which receives 800 claims for funeral benefit each week, said that the enhanced payments would “provide vital financial support to families grieving the loss of a loved one”.

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