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Mourners not allowed at city's "pauper's funerals"

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'Cruel' pauper funerals don't allow family and friends to mourn loved ones
There is no ceremony to attend if a pauper funeral is organised by Exeter City Council

Family members are not able to attend services paid for by Exeter City Council - also known as a pauper's funeral.

In such instances the local authority pays a third party to carry out a closed cremation of the body.
No ceremony is held and the council is not told when the cremations are taking place - so it is not possible for the family and friends of the dead person to attend.

An investigation carried out by the Sunday Times said that in a leaked letter a city council official told a grieving man: “The body is passed to the crematorium in Exeter, who arrange a closed crematorium...this is not open to friends or family, I’m afraid.”

Earlier this month, Devon Live reported how residents in Magdalen Road, Exeter, were planning their own fitting farewell for popular community figure Monica Law, 82, after being told a closed cremation had been arranged for her by Exeter City Council which they were unable to attend.

In response to the Sunday Times investigation, an Exeter City Council spokesman said: "The council pays for the services of a third party to carry out ‘closed cremations’ in these circumstances.

“In these cases we may write to friends or family informing them of the situation. However, there is no ceremony to attend.

"Because of this arrangement the council is not aware of when these funerals take place.”

More than 110 MPs have told Theresa May to act on the funeral poverty “crisis” following the Sunday Times investigation.

The MPs signed a letter to the prime minister describing the findings as “a national disgrace”. They demand a system to stop councils using “sickening” tactics to deter poverty-stricken residents applying for public-health or pauper’s funerals.

“Councils across the UK are indulging in cynical punishment of the poor.

"A no-frills funeral is one thing, but it is unfathomable that the poorest families are being banned from attending those funerals full stop,” it reads.

“One woman was told ‘don’t bother’ when trying to attend her brother’s public-health funeral last December. This behaviour must end.”

The campaign is led by Carolyn Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East, whose son, Martin, eight, was killed in a road accident in 1989. She used a load and a “whip-around” to pay for the funeral.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said: “This feels like we’re returning to the cruelty and indignity of the Victorian age.

"Funerals are when we have the chance to say goodbye to our loved ones and celebrate their lives with family and friends.

"Their dramatically rising cost and the growing poverty suffered by some families under this Government are making tragic cases like this all the more common.

“People can apply for help with funeral expenses from the Government’s Social Fund, but this has not kept up with the rising cost of funerals and the Government should review this as a matter of urgency.”

Source: Exeter Express & Echo via Devon Live

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