Support is being offered to County Durham residents who are struggling financially whilst also dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Following a particularly difficult 18 months in which many people have lost family members in addition to dealing with other challenges caused by the pandemic, Durham County Council is raising awareness of the help available.
Earlier morning cremation services and direct cremations are available to families at a reduced rate at the council’s sites in Durham City and at Mountsett, in Dipton.
Cllr Jean Chaplow, Chair of the Central Durham Crematorium Joint Committee, said: “We know how difficult it can be to lose a loved one, with bereavement affecting everyone in different ways. Having to then organise a funeral and dealing with the cost of those can often be overwhelming, particularly for those who have financial difficulties.
“That is why we are keen to raise awareness of the support that is available and to offer some alternative arrangements to families which could help to ease that burden. I would urge anyone who is struggling, to speak to their funeral director or contact us. Help is available and we are there to support so please don’t face a difficult time alone.”
Cllr Alison Batey, Chair of the Mountsett Crematorium Joint Committee, said: “In recognition of the challenges facing families, we have introduced reduced prices for some services as well offering families a direct cremation at a reduced cost. We are also making local funeral directors and hospices know about these changes, in addition to other bereavement support and benefits available, in order to ensure everyone is supported in the best way possible during such a difficult time.”
The council is also reminding residents of the benefits and financial support that may be available to surviving partners, with its welfare rights service on hand to offer advice and support to those eligible to claim.
People who receive a means-tested benefit can qualify for a Funeral Expenses Payment if they are taking responsibility for a funeral. A non-means-tested Bereavement Support Payment can also be claimed by those whose husband, wife or partner was under state pension age when they died and had paid some national insurance contributions in any year.
This can be claimed up to 21 months after a death and the council’s welfare rights team would be able to support with this.