Councils Spend £5.4m on "Pauper's Graves"

By Gary Cutlack on at

All the little councils of the UK are quietly racking up huge bills for burying people who made it to death with no friends or surviving relatives, with a total bill of £5.4m for taking caring of solitary deceased people landing on the 1970s desks of councillors last year.

This is the modern take on the pauper's grave, known as the public health burial. It's basically a generic, zero-fuss, no flowers council disposal in the most basic terms, and can in some areas see the deceased lumped in with others in a version of the grim old mass grave. Except there will be a vicar and a coffin –no one's just thrown in in the pyjamas they were wearing at the time.

The numbers come from series of Freedom of Information requests logged by insurance specialist Royal London, which found that the people of Birmingham tend to be the loneliest in death, with the council spending very nearly £1m on 395 of these no-frills council burials last year.

The Local Government Association says there's more too, as the NHS picks up some bills. A spokesperson said: "The increase in these funerals are an extra pressure on over-stretched council budgets which pay for them. Councils are facing a funding gap of £3.1 billion by 2020. The figures also mask the number of funerals paid for by the NHS when people die in hospital." [BBC]