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Public Health Funerals

The Council has a duty to arrange for the cremation or burial of any person who dies or is found dead in its area, where it appears that no funeral arrangements are being made or are likely to be made.  The Council is usually called upon where people have died either without family or without family who are willing or able to make the necessary arrangements.

If the deceased has died outside of the District Council area, then it will need to be referred to the local authority in that area to arrange the funeral.

If the person dies in hospital, the NHS Trust may make the funeral arrangements, in accordance with their polices.

What funeral arrangements are made?

We will arrange and pay for a simple but dignified funeral, to minimise the cost to the local taxpayer.

Public health funerals will be cremations unless:

  • the deceased is known to be part of a religion that forbids cremation
  • the deceased has left a Will or a signed, written statement expressing their wish to be buried

Public health burials will take place in a common or public grave unless the deceased owned a grave.

The Council will choose the funeral director, who will provide a coffin and bear the deceased to the crematorium or cemetery with dignity.  We will choose the date and time of the funeral and will endeavour to communicate with family and friends.

The use of a minister or celebrant, flowers or obituaries are not included in the arrangements made for a public funded funeral, and as such there will be no funeral ceremony.  No grave marker or other memorial to the deceased will be erected.

The Council cannot accept part payment for funerals organised by us or contribute to the costs of funerals organised by other persons.

The Funeral Expenses Payment scheme is administered by central Government and can help pay for a funeral you are arranging if you are in receipt of certain benefits.

If you wish to discuss your options, please contact us (using the online form) or by telephone on 0300 123 4000 (Option 7).

Collecting the ashes

Following a cremation, the ashes will normally be scattered at the crematorium’s Garden of Remembrance.

In certain circumstances, the ashes may be given to a close family member or friend.  They will need to make arrangements with the Council to collect the ashes from the crematorium.

The crematorium will need to see proof of identification before you can collect the ashes.

If family members or friends cannot agree on who the ashes should be released to, we will make arrangements for the ashes to be scattered in the crematorium gardens.

Property and belongings of the deceased person

The property will be made secure and any keys or property belonging to the deceased that family and friends have should be handed in for safekeeping.  All property should be recorded and handed into the Council’s Environmental Protection service.  We will then issue a receipt.

If the deceased person left furniture or other belongings, the Council cannot make arrangements for these to be disposed of.  The cost of clearing the property is normally met by the estate.  Property should not be removed from the house unless legal authority exists to do so.

If the deceased person's belongings are not worth anything in monetary value and the property was rented, the landlord is responsible for recovering the property and dealing with the contents.

How does the Council recover the cost of the funeral?

Under the legislation the funeral costs are the first expenses claimed on any estate.  The Council is entitled to collect any and all sums of money due to or belonging to the deceased and to sell any belongings of the deceased in order to help offset the costs of the funeral and expenses.

The Council is entitled to recover costs, but it is not empowered to administer the estate.

If, after we have deducted the funeral and administration costs, the remaining estate is over £500 and there is no evidence of a valid Will, and there is no known next of kin; we will refer the estate to the Treasury Solicitor in accordance with their guidelines for referring ‘Bona Vacantia’ estates

Freedom of Information Requests

Due to the frequency of Freedom of Information requests concerning public health funerals, we publish these online.

The lists show the names of deceased persons for whom funerals were organised by Babergh or Mid Suffolk District Council under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.


List of Public Health Funerals