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Public health funerals

We are responsible for arranging the funeral of any person who has died other than in hospital and where it appears that no other agency or persons are making suitable arrangements for the disposal of the body. ​

Legal requirements

South Gloucestershire Council will only take responsibility for all arrangements for funerals and estates in extreme circumstances.

The council has a duty under section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act of 1984 to “cause to be buried or cremated the body of any person who has died or found to be dead” within South Gloucestershire, and where it appears “that no suitable arrangements for the disposal of the body have been or are being made”.

The council is entitled to recover the costs of the funeral from the estate of the deceased, in the form of a civil debt recoverable within three years.

We will not part-fund a funeral. Should a person require financial assistance in arranging the funeral they should contact their local Social Security office, Jobcentre Plus office or Pension Service.

Getting help to pay for a funeral

A funeral payment can be claimed from Social Security if the person or their partner making the funeral arrangements is receiving:

  • Income Support
  • Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit which includes an amount higher than the family element
  • Working Tax Credit where a disability or severe disability element is included in the award

You can apply any time after the date the person has died and up to three months after the date of the funeral. You could receive the necessary cost of specified items or services plus up to £700 for other funeral expenses.

Visit the Jobcentre Plus website for more information and to download an application form.


The above provision does not apply to anyone who dies in hospital or in an ambulance on the way to hospital. Under these circumstances, the responsibility lies with the health authority.

Please contact us for further information.​

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