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Thank you, SW Barratt

Old stone cross in graveyard

Down to Earth Funeral Advice from Quaker Social Action

Published: April 5, 2024

The sad truth about funeral costs in the UK is that they are expensive. Down to Earth run by Quaker social action aims to provide advice for those struggling to pay a funeral bill. They offer free, friendly, supportive and confidential advice on how to fund funerals. According to the Money Helper website, the average funeral costs between £3,290 and £4,383 for a cremation or burial, respectively.

It is not uncommon for some people who die to leave little to no money or assets in their estate to pay for their funeral costs. As a result, their grieving relatives have to scrape around for money and find ways to get their loved ones a dignified funeral.

Many bereaved people who  are struggling financially often search for the cheapest possible funeral. Low-cost funerals are available through low-cost undertakers in the link.

Two old stone crosses in graveyard

What is Quaker Social Action?

Founded over 150 years ago, Quaker Social Action is an independent charity that offers real help and support for people on low incomes in East London, where they are established, and across the rest of the UK.

Hands joining

Quaker Social Action is a charity inspired by their Quaker roots and values, such as equality and eradicating poverty and injustice. The charity set up the Down to Earth helpline and support service to assist people struggling to pay for the cost of a funeral.

Free friendly and practical support helpline

The Down to Earth helpline is free to access and provides a confidential service to people that cannot afford to pay for the cost of a funeral anywhere in the UK. It is a helpline staffed by experienced advisors who can:

  • Help callers identify ways to raise money to pay for funeral costs
  • Reduce the costs associated with funerals
  • Seek financial support from the government

Down to Earth is especially ideal for people on a low income or who receive state benefits. For many the cheapest funeral cost is all important for their budget.

Additionally, they also offer free factsheets. One of which is the Social Fund Funeral Expenses payment PDF which can be seen by visiting the link.

Pile of coins

Advice on ways to pay for a funeral

Arguably the primary reason callers contact the Down to Earth helpline is because they are not sure how to pay for a relative’s funeral. The cost of funerals worries many people, but Down to Earth’s expert team can help callers explore ways to lower the costs and fund them.

Sometimes bereaved people borrow  the money from a friend, relative, or financial situation and repay it without putting themselves in financial difficulties if they are on a low income.

Information on how to lower funeral costs

Another way that Down to Earth can help callers on its helpline is by giving them practical advice on how to lower funeral costs. Unfortunately, many people are unable to save for funeral expenses.

One way to lower funeral costs, for instance, is to opt for a direct cremation instead of a traditional burial. Another is to seek out a low-cost funeral director that charges lower fees without compromising on the level of service provided.

When you are in the process of losing a loved one or you are responsible for organising a funeral, the stress can somewhat take its toll on you. At the end of the day, you’re just an individual looking to deal with a formality that must take place. 

White marble cross in graveyard

The least you feel as though you must do is provide the perfect service for the deceased and for everyone who had a stake in their life. Those struggling to afford a funeral service and everything that goes with it can feel as though they’re in a terrible spot. Fortunately, we can all make a few decisions and changes in order to get something of substance over the line. 

Apart from from help via Down to Earth we’re going to talk about a few points and hopefully point you in the right direction.

Raising money towards funeral costs

Old lady in grief

There are many ways you can organise a low-cost funeral and find sources of funding as you look to pay for a funeral service and everything around it. For anyone struggling to find an affordable funeral there are a few options you have:

  • Money from the deceased person’s estate
  • Government support
  • Charities and organisations that provide grants
  • Non-work-related charities
  • Crowdfunding
  • *Repayment plan and loans

A comprehensive list of financial help with funeral costs from the Government and charities can be found by clicking the link.

*A repayment plan from an undertaker should not be taken unless very short term, with a low interest repayment, as getting into debt is not advised. The same is advised for a loan.

What needs to be done after a death? 

When somebody dies, a doctor will complete a medical certificate showing the cause of death. The death should  be registered within five days, at a local register office. If a funeral director is used, they need the death to be registered before proceeding with the funeral.

When making an appointment at the Registry office, you’ll need to take the following document of the person who died:

  • Medical certificate of death – usually issued by hospital doctor or GP
  • You will also need to provide the registrar with the information below about the deceased:
  • Their address
  • Where they were born
  • Their date of birth
  • Their occupation

Additionally if the deceased was a married woman you will also have to provide:

  • Her husbands (or deceased husband) occupation and date of birth

You will also need to bring a document showing your name and address – as you are reporting the death.

The death certificate is not free, unfortunately you will also have to pay for copies of it. This cost in England is presently £11.

While you are with the registrar they should offer you the Government Tell Us Once service.

At the end of the registration you should receive:

  • A copy of the entry made in the death register, commonly known as the death certificate
  • A certificate for burial or application for cremation, commonly known as the ‘green form’
  • OR Certificate of Registration of Death (form 14) in Scotland

The death certificate is not free, unfortunately you will also have to pay for copies of it. This cost in England is presently £11.

After a funeral

Once a funeral has taken place and you have said your final goodbyes, you’ll be in a much better place to look at the financial implications. The stress of everything surrounding a funeral might put you in an awkward headspace.

Woman and child at graveside

One of the best things you can do here is receive expert advice. Down to Earth can help as there are things to be aware of. Benefit rules and the DWP should be informed of your circumstances, so that you can find out if you are entitled to any payments. If you’re told you’re not eligible for something, then expert advice can put you in a much better place.

When grieving, the likes of bereavement counselling may help. Your grief is a natural and normal process, but it can take its toll on your mind and your life. GP work, local services, support with bereavement, and many other helpful groups will be able to walk you through the next stage of life and help you with some important decisions going forward.

Typically, when it comes to finances, any debts that are solely in the name of the person who has died would be wiped. If there is no money left in the estate after the funeral has been paid, there’s little that can be done and the case is written off. There may be certain debts you have to funeral directors, credit providers, friends, or family members, however. In this case, it’s wise to set up a realistic payment plan.

If you were living with the person who died, then you may be able to receive a little help and guidance via a discount on your council tax. Contact your local council for help with a possible single occupier council tax discount.

Referring a client as a professional

Man being counselled

Paying for a funeral is obviously not easy, as we’ve gathered. Struggling to pay can impact so many areas of life. Mental health can take a huge hit, and so can debt management. Shopping around for the cheapest funerals is not an easy task when bereaved.

There are many forms of guidance that you can read up on in order to avoid the debt and distress of funeral expenses. Services like Down to Earth can be contacted directly.

Quick, simple pieces of advice for an affordable funeral 

– There is no point in hurrying. You may feel as though you must get everything handled immediately, but it’s not necessary. Take your time, deal with everything that is going on, and work on the financial side. 

– Check out whether there is money in the estate of the deceased. Get in touch with the deceased’s bank and check the paperwork for any life insurance, funeral plans, pensions, death-in-service benefit, or anything else of that nature. 

– Look at using a low-cost undertaker, for an affordable funeral, or budget funeral as sometimes referred to Funerals can be very expensive and prices can vary hugely. You could also think about holding the funeral service yourself – without a director. This is possible without being as complicated as many think and will obviously help you save a lot more money.

– There are plenty of ways you could reduce a bill. You could go for a ‘simple funeral’ package which means you’ll be choosing a low-cost direct cremation over burial. You could book an ‘off-peak’ slot, too. Early morning cremations are often cheaper than more popular times.

– Deposits are important. Remember to ask whether any money will be necessary before the funeral and how much it is so that you can plan ahead.

Handwriting in book

– If you are eligible for government help from the Funeral Expenses Payment, then this could be a valid option. Look into this if  you are on an income-related benefit or other benefit. 

– Spouses or civil partners  could be eligible for the Bereavement Support Payment

– Down to Earth are available to advise and help you deal with funeral finances.

– If nobody is able to pay for a funeral, then you could request a public health funeral from the local council or hospital.

– Further funeral costs advice can be viewed at MoneyHelper

– You must be wary of credit. Be sure to check terms, conditions, and interest rates if your funeral directors allow a payment plan. Try and avoid debt if you possibly can.


When going through tough times, you can be thrust into countless awkward positions that put you through a lot of stress. Apart from the services of Down to Earth, there are other ways such as using a low-cost undertaker, or handling the funeral yourself to save money. Whether you’re dealing with the terminal illness of someone or you’ve just lost them, you deserve to know absolutely everything there is to understand. Hopefully, this small guide has helped you in understanding some important points.

If you would like to learn more about locating low-cost funerals, low-cost headstones, natural burials, DIY funerals, free financial help from the Government and charities as well as bereavement support, then please visit Save Funeral Costs™

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SW Barratt
Founder: SW Barratt

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