Pauper funerals on the rise in Sutton as recession leaves relatives unable to pay


The number has more than doubled in the past year.

By Jacob Metcalf

Pauper funerals are on the rise in South West London as families struggle to cope with funeral costs, sparking fears about isolation of the elderly in Sutton.

Figures revealed by a Freedom of Information Request show that the Epsom and St Helier trust undertook 17 pauper funerals during 2012-13 compared to seven the year before.

Apart from one incident when a baby received a pauper funeral, the majority were carried out for the elderly.

Over the last three years, the Epsom and St Helier trust has also seen a rise in the amount of people dying without any income or friends and family.

Reverend Sarah Sewell, chaplain for the Epsom and St Helier trust and manager of their bereavement services, said: “Sadly, there has been an increase in recent years, and, in the main, this is because the deceased and their loved ones just do not have the money to pay for a funeral, or tragically, a patient dies and relatives and friends cannot be traced.

“We take this obligation seriously and ensure that we treat the deceased with respect at all times.”

Before administrative costs, staff costs and anything redeemed by the relevant local authority from the deceased’s estate, the funerals cost the trust £15,300 last year.

Each pauper funeral costs the trust on average £900 and the trust provides a coffin, a hearse and a cremation at North East Surrey Crematorium.

Tom Brake the MP for Carshalton and Wallington said: “It is very sad to note that many, often elderly people, are dying without any known relatives or relatives able to afford to pay for their funeral.”

Paul Burstow the MP for Sutton and Cheam said the figures were sad and gave a glimpse of a deeper issue of social isolation and loneliness – likely to be a growing trend.

Age UK Sutton have a community helpers project which supports elderly people getting access to social opportunities and local activities. For more information call them on 020 8770 4090.

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