Funeral directors urge restoration of bereavement grant

Abolition of €850 flat payment during financial crisis saved about €20 million a year

About 30,000 people die in the State every year.

About 30,000 people die in the State every year.

 

Funeral directors have urged the Government to restore the bereavement grant abolished in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure.

The Irish Association of Funeral Directors has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty and other ministers asking them to reinstate the payment to assist people with funeral costs in their time of crisis.

The grant was discontinued during the financial crisis and was not paid for deaths occurring on or after January 1st 2014.

Prior to that, it cost in the region of €20 million a year and bereaved families were paid a flat amount of €850. It had been payable since 1999 to recipients who had contributed under their PRSI payments.

President of the association John Foley said its member funeral homes were still asked regularly by families about the grant.

“We acknowledge difficult decisions had to be made during that era when our country was in a financial crisis,” Mr Foley said.

“The purpose of the bereavement grant was to help bereaved families pay the funeral expenses of their relatives who had paid PRSI contributions.

“Our members are regularly asked by families; particularly those struggling with financial issues, about the bereavement grant which in the past significantly helped lessen the burden of paying a funeral account.

“On behalf of those families and others, we have contacted the main parties in Dáil seeking the reinstatement of the grant in the upcoming budget.”

The Department of Social Protection still in some cases provides assistance to bereaved families on low incomes, via an “exceptional needs” payment. Each case is, however, decided on its merits whereas the old bereavement grant was not means tested.

About 30,000 people die in the State every year.

IAFD members arrange more than 80 per cent of funerals on the island of Ireland.

The Irish Hospice Foundation also recently called for the restoration of the grant on an interim basis as part of a package of measures for dealing with end of life issues.