The Funeral Expense Assistance (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2024: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the draft Funeral Expense Assistance (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2024

Summary of recommendations and observations

Recommendation 1: The Scottish Government should consider revising draft Regulation 2(6)(d) so that it is clear that the cost of a funeral outside the deceased person’s local authority area of residence can be used for the benchmarking of eligible costs for a Funeral Support Payment award where necessary.

Recommendation 2: The Scottish Government should develop (non-exhaustive) guidance on what could constitute ‘exceptional circumstances’ under which Funeral Support Payment could be awarded in respect of a funeral outside the UK, in particular where the deceased person is a foreign national who wished to be buried or cremated in their country of origin.

Recommendation 3: As part of their ongoing evaluation and monitoring, the Scottish Government should gather such data as is required to monitor and assess the impact of the changes introduced through these regulations, with particular regard to take-up in respect of funerals abroad and the application of guidance on exceptional circumstances.

Observation 1: SCoSS welcomes the removal of the current restriction on additional costs for burials and cremations taking place outside the deceased person’s area of ordinary residence.

Observation 2: SCoSS welcomes the proposed changes to the rules on deductions from Funeral Support Payment awards, including the removal of the provision barring awards of Funeral Support Payment on the basis of the deceased person’s assets. Collectively these should enhance Funeral Support Payment’s role in protecting people in receipt of low-income benefits from the cost of arranging a funeral.

Observation 3: SCoSS welcomes the various amendments to enable awards of Funeral Support Payment in support of funerals by alkaline hydrolysis. The changes should help to prepare the principal Regulations for the likely future availability of the process in Scotland as well as immediately expanding the options available to organisers of funerals in some non-UK countries.

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