Research project

Funeral Link addressing the problem of funeral poverty

School of Business academics Carlo Morelli and Ruth Bickerton are investigating the impact of funeral costs, while a new charity (Funeral Link) has been set up in the city to help families cope in the aftermath of a bereavement

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Start date

July 2016

Completion date

July 2019

A group of community and strategic partners came together in 2016 to form the Dundee Funeral Poverty Action Group in order to spotlight the issue of funeral poverty in Dundee, and to investigate potential solutions. The study and conclusions of this work suggested a raft of measures would help to address the issue of funeral poverty, although it suggested no one single solution would be a panacea. These are listed below:

  • - ‘A specific funeral advice and brokerage service to provide dedicated support at the time of bereavement where people are most vulnerable.
  • - Increased awareness of funeral and bereavement benefits and support to assess eligibility and submit applications.
  • - Affordable finance to become the norm hence the need to encourage dialogue is vital. The failure of many pre-paid funeral plans to cover costs is another matter worth highlighting.
  • - Local authorities to ensure burial and cremation costs are pitched at affordable levels and consider implementing a trusted trader scheme similar to the East Ayrshire model.
  • - Continued local and national campaigning to maintain the spotlight on the issue of funeral poverty and promote change and increased transparency in the industry.’

This report sets out work carried out by the University, first to set out and understand the funeral process. This identifies the distinct problems of funeral poverty arising in terms of market failure and inability of next of kin to exercise choice. The report provides key data and findings in terms of funeral costs and prices, across the UK, Scotland and specifically within Dundee. Socio-economic indicators are set out to show the prevalence of funeral poverty in Dundee, and estimates are made of annual levels of funeral debt. Current policy is investigated to show how funeral poverty is being targeted at a UK, Scottish and local level, through different initiatives and support mechanisms.


Project team

Dr Carlo Morelli,

Ruth Bickerton

External team members

Dundee City Council

Related groups

School of Business

Project type

Research project