OVER the past three years, Bromsgrove District Council have spent almost £8,000 on "paupers' funerals".

As part of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by insurers Royal London, the council spent £7915.12 in 2016/2017, but haven't yet released figures for 2017/2018.

The total cost of public health funerals across local authorities in the UK in 2017-18 was £5,382,379.

A Local Government Association (LGA) spokesman said: "It is a sad fact that there are thousands of people, mostly elderly, across the country with no family or friends to care for them or arrange, attend or pay for their funeral.

"Public health funerals are a last resort but, where there is no-one able to pay for a funeral, councils will hold one in a respectful and dignified way.

"Councils will try to establish whether the deceased had any religious requirements to enable them to respect their wishes in the provision of a burial or cremation."

He continued: "Councils can recover costs from the estate; however, in some cases people will die without an estate, in which case councils will bear the full costs themselves.

"The increase in these funerals is an extra pressure on over-stretched council budgets which pay for them."

He said the figures also "mask the number of funerals paid for by the NHS when people die in hospital".

The spokesman added: "Our ageing population is growing rapidly and so is the worrying picture of isolation and loneliness across the country."

Public health funerals, which are also known as paupers' funerals, are "no frills" services provided by the local authority, which in general include a coffin and the services of a funeral director but do not include flowers, obituaries or transport for family members. Families can attend if they wish.

More than 3,800 such funerals were carried out across the UK last year.

Birmingham City Council spent the most last year, with public health funerals costing it £990,437.

Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, in Northern Ireland, had the lowest spend on funerals at £275.

Nearly a third (31%) of families who turned to their local council for a public health funeral did so because they were unable to foot the bill.

Other reasons for public health funerals included the deceased having no family, and families unwilling to pay for the funeral.

Louise Eaton-Terry, a funeral cost expert at Royal London, said: "More support is needed to help those struggling with funeral costs."