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Public health funerals

Find out when and how we step in to make funeral arrangements following an individuals death.

Published: 9 August 2022

Last updated: 9 August 2022

When we step in to arrange a funeral

We may have a responsibility under Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 to make funeral arrangements following the death of anyone within the boundary: 

  • where no funeral arrangements have been made 
  • when living relatives of the deceased cannot be found 
  • or when relatives of the deceased are unable or unwilling to pay any funeral expenses 

Section 46 of the Act also states that we may, where possible, recover expenses from the deceased’s estate. 

If there are no relatives found and the deceased died within a hospital managed by an NHS Trust, the NHS Trust may assume responsibility for the arrangements and recovering expenses. 

A dignified and respectful funeral service will be provided by our contracted funeral director, including a coffin, a hearse to transport the deceased person to the crematorium or cemetery and bearers to transfer the coffin to the chapel of rest. 

Either a minister of religion, representative of the faith of the deceased or a civil funeral celebrant will lead the service, as appropriate. Family and friends will be kept informed of the arrangements and may attend the funeral service.  

Where there is no next of kin and in excess of £500 left in the estate after the funeral costs have been paid, a referral is made to the Government Legal Department as required. 

If a burial is required and the deceased did not previously own a grave, a burial will take place in an unmarked public grave. 

Further assistance that may be available

People First

People First is run by Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster Council. It provides detailed information about what to do when someone dies and where to go for help. 

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

If relatives would like involvement in the funeral arrangements but are struggling with funeral costs, there may be some financial help in the form of a Funeral Payment from the DWP. This can help with the cost of funeral fees, and you may have to repay some of the Funeral Payment from the deceased person’s estate.   

To find out whether you are eligible and for information on how to apply, please visit the government website. You can also find further information at your local benefits office (Jobcentre Plus) by asking for information in relation to Funeral Payments (form SP200). 

Freedom of Information Requests

Section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act - Law Enforcement (prevention and detection of crime 

Under S31 of the Act, we will not disclose information where they relate to addresses of the deceased as this would constitute a breach in confidence. Furthermore, releasing such information would leave the property vulnerable to crime including identity fraud and hence S31 will be applied to prevent any identifying information regarding the deceased being released.

Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act- Personal Information 

We also apply the exemption regarding disclosure of names under S40 of the Act. Disclosing the full name of the deceased may lead to living relatives being identified and we will therefore exempt such disclosure to protect the personal information of any living relatives.

List of public health funerals

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Public funerals, 1 April 2015 to 30 June 2022