NEIL Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales, is backing a new awareness campaign to tackle funeral poverty in Wales.

Mr Hamilton, is supporting terminal illness charity, Marie Curie, in calling for urgent action to prevent more people falling into unmanageable debt due to spiralling funeral costs.

He said:“I was amazed to hear the cost of a basic funeral which was just under £2,000 in 2004, has almost doubled and is now more than £4,000.

“This is a huge increase and I am not surprised people are getting into financial difficulties.  Funeral poverty is on the increase and figures show it reached a record high of £160m last year, which is totally unacceptable.

“When you lose a loved one you are vulnerable and the last thing you should be worried about is the cost of a funeral and getting into debt to pay for this.

“Action needs to be taken and I am happy to support the Funeral Poverty Charter, which calls for clearer information about funeral costs for the bereaved, and for affordable and comparable funeral costs to be available across Wales. “

Paul Harding, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for Marie Curie Wales, said: “Marie Curie believes that everyone across Wales, should have the right to a dignified funeral without the legacy of unmanageable debt. The high cost of funerals means this may not currently be possible for some people.

“The average cost of a funeral with a burial can vary by as much as £800 depending on your council area and vary by £250 if you opt for a cremation. Many local authorities also charge considerably more for non-residents, so this is something families need to consider.

“With limited financial support for those in need drying up, funeral costs remaining high and with an aging population the level of funeral poverty here is only likely to increase unless we take urgent action.”

One in six people across the UK say they struggle with funeral costs, and funeral poverty reached a record £160m last year.

Research also links funeral poverty and financial stress following bereavement to mental health issues like psychological distress, guilt and depression.

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