This woman is a cretin: discuss

Return of the pauper’s funeral
In austerity Britain life for many is a struggle – and now, so is death: a combination of dwindling state support and soaring funeral costs is leaving hard-pressed families dependent on the council to bury their loved ones

Somebody, somewhere,
needs to explain how the local council is not actually the state supporting those without enough money to bury loved ones.

I dunno about you but I’m pretty sure they are part of the state. They get to pass laws (OK, only by-laws but still), levy taxes and spend tax money. This is, erm, the state, isn’t it?

20 thoughts on “This woman is a cretin: discuss”

  1. Why are there “soaring funeral costs”? I’d hazard a guess the dead hand of the state has something to do with it.

  2. Sure she’s a cretin. Equally, disposing of bodies is a public health issue, so if there really isn’t anyone else around to pay, we all have to.

  3. @Andrew M, who’d have thunk it …

    “crematoriums … say they are facing huge costs because EU legislation is forcing them to install expensive new filtration systems to reduce mercury emissions…”

  4. The state’s basic £700 funeral payment has not been increased for 10 years, while funeral inflation has been at 7.1% a year.


    Around 50% of people who apply for a grant have their applications rejected.

    I see.

    The National Association of Funeral Directors has pressed for an increase in the payment

    I bet they have. In other news, your dog wants steak.

    Paul Griffin, 50, received a state-funeral payment to help pay for his mother’s funeral when she died 17 years ago, but was refused one when his father died more recently. He found the stress of not knowing how he was going to meet the funeral costs overwhelming, and was humiliated by the experience of telling funeral directors that he found their costs exorbitant.

    Yes, I can see how that would be stressful.

    He felt that he was given dismissive treatment. “She had her glasses down her nose. I thought she was looking at me, thinking: ‘Oh what, another pauper?’ There was no cup of tea. It didn’t feel like you were welcome. I didn’t feel comfortable. They could give you a little comfort, even if you don’t have the money. We’re all the same; if you cut them, they’re still going to bleed, if you’ve got money or no money.”

    I’m sorry to hear Paul wasn’t offered tea and comfort.

    As it is, he is already paying £15 a week extra in bedroom tax, for a room that was allocated to his father before his death; there are no single bedroom flats available to transfer to.

    No, Paul. Let’s be clear: you pay nothing. That £15 is simply a reduction in the benefits other people pay you for your housing, which you get for nothing.

    You’re a 50 year old man relying on the kindness of strangers. That’s sad, but take some responsibility for your life.

    Meanwhile sociologists wonder whether the apparent rise in demand for public funerals might have something to do with the fragmented nature of society, where it is no longer obvious who should bear responsibility for burying a relative. Dr Kate Woodthorpe, a sociologist who specialises in death and dying at the university of Bath, says: “Families are very blended nowadays. They remarry, they have children by different partners. A lot of these systems are built on traditional nuclear families where it is clear who is responsible for whom.”

    You mean, the sort of anti-traditional family stuff sociologists have been promoting for decades might have negative consequences for society? Who’da thunk it?

    Kennedy does not subscribe to this view. “There is an argument that we are seeing more public health funerals because there is a loosening of kinship ties and people are taking less responsibility. I don’t have much truck with that. We know funeral poverty is increasing and therefore it follows that public health funerals would increase as well.”

    So people are poorer now than they were in the 1970’s?

    But of course Heather Kennedy doesn’t subscribe to reality. She describes herself as a social justice campaigner, for fuck’s sake. Not getting the point is her chosen faith. Check out her Twitter, it’s full of Marxist shite:

    Anyway, the article is all over the place and gives us few useful facts or conclusions. It’s not really journalism, it’s mood music. Poverty porn for middle class Guardianistas to fap over.

    “Isn’t it just awful that the poor have cheap funerals? That’s life in ConDem austerity Britain! Bankers! Bullingdon! Bedroom tax!” Fap. Fap. Fap.

  5. Bloke no Longer in Austria


    Like all professions there are companies that specialise in this kind of funeral. They take the money direct from the DWP and arrange “off peak” cremations ( early mornings usually) and probably somewhere inconvenient (i.e. not local to the decased).
    it’s Paul’s own fault for going to a regular undertaker rather than shopping around.
    It happened to a relative of mine. The whole business was taken over by his ex-wife, so we didn’t get a chance to finance his funeral.

  6. bloke (not) in spain

    Dunno. Maybe a modicum of sympathy.
    When Mum abruptly handed in her food pail, it was down to me to make arrangements – initially from a range of 1200 miles. The nursing home she died at were understandably keen for her to vacate, she’d chosen Saturday evening, so I was reliant on them to sort out removal. And, of course, once you’re with one funeral director your not going to be moving your business & relative to another, are you?
    From then on it was trying to keep costs under control. (To quote from article: “..this was a woman who was extremely honest and plain-speaking” Sums up Mum. The thought of her haunting me for the rest of my days over organising some extravaganza, involving people she wouldn’t give the time of day to weeping over her coffin, chills the blood) So a great deal of bargaining down said FD from a State Funeral to: “whip her down to the crematorium & we’ll take the ashes in a Sainsury’s carrier, if that’s OK with you?” The discrete professional pushing of Shame Buttons was totally ineffectual & a plainish,wooden, very bottom of the range, box kept her from spilling in the boot of the car on the way to her place of interment. But they don’t make it easy for you to forgo the respectful duty of making them five grand richer.
    Mum gets remembered in ways Mum would appreciate.

  7. bloke (not) in spain – I hear you. We’ve all been there.

    Funeral directors love money, and they’re very good at extracting it from grief-stricken bereaved people. I understand it’s a margin-rich business.

    That isn’t what the Guardian’s banging on about though. It’s about social justice apparently.

  8. Insurance company research reveals that people should buy insurance. Industry insiders demand that the state supports their industry.

    Nobody bothers to ask why it costs so much money to set fire to a box.

  9. Steve

    Absolute genius – that should be required reading for every schoolchild in the land. Brilliant dissection of an article, which even against stiff competition from such links as this:

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    ranks as one of the worst I have ever seen in the Tax Dodger….

  10. ‘Nobody bothers to ask why it costs so much money to set fire to a box.’

    It used to be enough for three white wines and a plate of spaghtti.

  11. “Somebody, somewhere, needs to explain how the local council is not actually the state supporting those without enough money to bury loved ones. ”

    Another question I would ask – why would anyone think the levels of government *above* the council should/would have anything to with pauper burials? It would seem to me that this is exactly the sort of thing appropriately handled at the council level.

    Or is she seriously thinking that the UK needs an NBS (National Burial Service)?

  12. I’m going to get buried in the garden with our cats. Cost: one chap to dig a bloody deep hole, and a cohort of chaps to drop in the cardboard coffin. A CD can play a bit of New Orleans funeral music, and perhaps we’ll have one piper’s lament. Then everyone can have tea and biscuits.

  13. Jack C, Van_Patten, JuliaM – Thanks 🙂

    Agammamon – a National Burial Service. Can you imagine? People would soon become upset at waiting six-to-eight weeks to say their final goodbyes to Nan, but the Guardian would tell us it’s the envy of the world and the only thing wrong is that its army of middle managers, diversity consultants and coffin inspectors need more money.

    dearieme – hopefully not with the surviving cats! They’d just escape and dig you back up anyway. That’s what happened to the pharaohs.

  14. bloke (not) in spain

    Just a thought:
    Gran paid sixpence(?) a week to a bloke used to knock on the door. Funeral insurance she called it. “Make sure there’s a decent send-off, when me time comes”‘
    Of course, that generation reckoned things like this were their own responsibility. Not other people’s. Like digging their own air–raid shelters an’ such.
    Whatever happened to the bloke from the L&V?
    Actually I can guess. Compliance with the FSA would have cost fivepence-ha’penny, Gordon Brown would have nicked a further ninepence & the old girl would have died owing four grand plus taxes & interest.

  15. Bloke no Longer in Austria


    Well you still get these types of polcies, problem is that they are a bloody con !

    Those adverts on daytime TV with Michael Parkinson, June Whitfield or (shudder) Esther Rantzen. You pay tenner a week ( or something) into a fund. If you stop paying you lose the lot, despite paying much more in than you might ever recoup.

    Frank Windsor actually asked to be taken off his adverts because he thought the policies were crooked.

    It is one of the mysteries of the market economy : a product that is so amazingly rubbish, that only the really stupid will subscribe, yet up sprouts this myriad of companies who think that they can all feed from the same shallow pool.

    Mind you, one does get a free pen just for enquring.

  16. “The estimated total number of public health funerals carried out by local authorities across England and Wales in 2010/11 was 2,900 – this has remained fairly stable over the period 2008/09 to 2010/11.” (Source PDF:
    The latest figures are running at just over 3,000 per year or around 0.6% of all funerals. This simply isn’t an issue and it is certainly not one that can be blamed on “austerity” or the coalition. And it isn’t simply a case of expense. Sadly, the majority of these “pauper’s funerals” are attended by neither family members nor friends. It is a reflection on the breakup and scattering of families and the number of single, isolated individuals (mostly males, by the way) dying alone. In my experience the local councils do a wonderful job of dealing with these cases and giving the deceased a dignified and respectful funeral.

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