A 10-point plan has been launched to help people struggling with debt to manage funeral costs has been set out by Equalities Secretary Angela Constance.
The Equalities Secretary launched the new plan while visiting the Renfrewshire Wide Credit Union (RWCU).
Alongside White Cart, RWCU is one of two credit unions in Paisley that has recently developed new products that help people plan and pay for funerals.
Local MSP Derek Mackay has welcomed the new plans.
The Funeral Costs Plan commits to a range of actions to improve the support available. A leaflet has also been published to help people with practical new guidance on how to make their wishes clear and encourages conversations with family and friends – which can reduce stress and keep costs down when the time comes.
Credit unions are not-for-profit organisations owned by their members that provide low-cost loans and encourage people to save.
Karen Wallace, Manager at RWCU said: “Our Funeral Finance product should help reduce anxiety and distress caused by financing a funeral and help protect families from problems caused by resorting to high-interest loans to meet the funeral costs of loved ones.”
Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay said: “The cost of a funeral can, and often does, push many people into debt. Families who are already struggling to get by can find the already painful death of a loved one even more stressful due to the costs involved.
“That is why I am pleased the Scottish Government are taking action to tackle the issue. We are committed to supporting those we need it most following a bereavement.”
Equalities Secretary Ms Constance said: “The death of a loved one is an incredibly difficult time for anyone. It can be even harder when money is tight. We know funeral costs can push people into poverty – and often it is those already in financial hardship who face increased difficulties.
“That is why we are taking decisive action to tackle this growing issue and have engaged with local authorities, the funeral sector and other support services. I am pleased by the willingness to work together to find solutions that support more affordable funerals.
“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting those who need it most following a bereavement, which is why we will introduce a new Funeral Expense Assistance from summer 2019.”
Kenneth Keegan from Kenneth Keegan Independent Funeral Directors said: “When a family finds themselves in the position of having to arrange a funeral, it can be a daunting experience. A lot of clients may not have been expecting the death of a loved one, they then find themselves in the position of having find a considerable amount of money to cover the costs which can be stressful in its self.
“Where the credit union has been of a great help and support to families is giving them comfort that the costs can be financed and paid for over a period of time which they feel is affordable. Having this support allows the family to arrange the funeral without the worry of finding the funds to cover the various costs associated and go through the bereavement with the knowledge that their loved one will have a funeral service that reflects their values and beliefs.”