Skip to content

We use cookies to make the site simpler. Find out more about cookies

Close alert
Services in Christchurch

Public health funerals

We understand that there are occasions where families have no other option than approaching the local authority to make arrangements for them.

The local authority route should not be used by families who can afford to make other, simple funeral arrangements but choose not to – it is not a free alternative to a family’s moral responsibility to care for their own family members.


A public health funeral should not be confused with getting financial assistance toward the funeral of a friend or relative.

If you are finding it difficult to pay for a funeral, you may be able to claim a Funeral Payment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). More information about eligibility can be found on the GOV.UK website.

The law does not require a local authority to provide a funeral service. In cases where a public health funeral has been identified (see below for criteria), BCP Council will:

  • respect the wishes of the deceased, if known
  • decide whether a burial or cremation will take place
  • decide the date and time of the funeral
  • inform any family and friends of the arrangements, and allow them to attend
  • allow the ashes to be collected by a friend of family member, if a cremation is chosen
  • seek to recover any costs from the estate of the deceased, where one exists

When BCP Council provides a public health funeral

The cost of the funeral is normally paid for using funds from the deceased person's estate (the belongings owned by that person). We will only arrange and pay for a funeral if no one else is willing to do so.

We have a responsibility under Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 to make arrangements and pay for Public Health Funerals in certain circumstances:

  • when someone dies without making a will and appointing an executor, and
  • when we do not think there are any relatives or friends willing or able to make the funeral arrangements

Freedom of information requests

BCP Council provides information on a quarterly basis on:

  • public health funerals
  • people who have died with no known next of kin
  • bona vacantia estates
  • estates that have been referred to the Treasury Solicitor, or Duchy of Lancaster or Cornwall

Download the latest information.

Your feedback

This form is for reporting incorrect website content, technical issues, or general website feedback.

Contact us if you want to get in touch about a council service instead.

All fields are required.

Leave your email address so that we can provide a response.

This helps us direct your feedback to the appropriate council.