A coalition of support is building around the NAFD’s proposal for a Funeral Crisis Loan, which is continuing to put pressure on the Government to introduce the loan to help bereaved people during the COVID-19 crisis.
This has included a letters and tweets campaign by NAFD members ask local MPs for support and a letter signed by 10 co-signatories published in the Telegraph along with an article exploring the proposal.
The signatories included: Carolyn Harris MP, Labour MP for Swansea East; Mark Isherwood MS, Chair of the Cross Party Group for Funerals and Bereavement in the Welsh Parliament; Sir Mark Hendrick MP, Labour-Co-op, Preston; David Collingwood, Director of Funerals, Co-op Funeralcare; Matthew Reed, Chief Executive, Marie Curie; Jon Levett, Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Funeral Directors; The Right Reverend Paul Ferguson, Bishop of Whitby; Sam Kershaw, Chief Executive Officer, Funeral Partners; Mohamed Omer, Board Member, Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery and Chair, National Burial Council; and Alison
Crake, Senior Partner, Crake and Mallon Funeral Service. In response to the letter campaign, additional MPs also came forward to offer their support.
The proposal is for an interest-free loan, available to all and not means tested, should they be struggling to pay for a funeral during lockdown and while restrictions remain. The NAFD believes the loan can be administered through existing mechanisms
such as the Bounceback Loan and Child Funeral Fund, helping the Government prevent further time-consuming administration. It is also of benefit to the Government as it is not a “free money” giveaway, but money it will recoup. The key benefit to bereaved people would be that they can organise a funeral knowing that it can be paid for, allowing them to focus on grieving and remembering their loved one, while with the money going directly to the funeral director and cremation or burial organisation, it prevents funeral directors from building up debt as they know they will be paid. The NAFD has, and is happy to, discuss the idea of set or capped fees.
Ultimately, the coalition is in the hands of the Government as to whether the proposal will proceed – or whether the Government will instead choose to strengthen and improve the operation of the existing Social Fund funeral expenses payment, something the NAFD also continues to press for at present.