Public health funerals
There are 3 types of funerals available based on the cost and affordability
Regular Funeral Director arranged funeral
You can go direct to any Funeral Director who will assist you in planning the funeral you would like.
Cheshire East Council will arrange a public health funeral when someone dies with:
- no known next of kin
- no suitable funeral arrangements
The Council will recover the funeral expenses from the deceased’s estate to limit the cost to the people of Cheshire East.
The next of kin may be entitled to a funeral payment from the “Social Fund” if they are in receipt of one of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Working Tax Credit which includes a disability
- Child Tax Credit if your reward is high enough
- Housing Benefit
- Universal Credit
If you believe you are eligible for this assistance please visit the Gov.uk funeral payments page.
A reduced cost Funeral
The Orbitas Funeral: Orbitas (a company wholly owned by Cheshire East Council) has negotiated a funeral at a reduced rate. Orbitas are able to offer this service inclusive of all associated crematorium charges. The Orbitas Funeral Service can also include burial.
Guidance is available on the Orbitas funeral service page. If you wish to use this service, please contact your chosen funeral directors and ask for the ‘Orbitas Funeral Service.'
Our role in public health funerals
Registering the death
The next of kin should register the death or someone who knew them. We will register the death if we cannot find them.
Finding next of kin
When we are told of a death that may qualify as a public funeral we collect the deceased person’s belongings.
We search the property of the deceased person for:
- a Will
- documents to find any next of kin
- finances to help pay for the funeral
If we find a Will, we ask the executor to make the funeral arrangements in line with the deceased’s wishes. The executor is the person responsible for looking after the estate of the deceased. The Council will then take no further action.
We work with a genealogy research company to assist with finding relatives. If we find details of any family and friends, we tell them about the death and ask them to undertake the funeral arrangements.
Arranging the funeral service
We make funeral arrangements with a funeral director who has a contract with the Council. The service will be simplistic and dignified, it will usually take place early in the morning. If anyone wishes to arrange for a minister or officiant to take the service they may be able to do so at their own expense.
We will scatter the cremated remains of the deceased in the Rose Garden of one of our crematoriums. If any next of kin, family or friends request the ashes we will make a charge.
Paying for a public health funeral
We pay for the funeral from the estate of the deceased. If there are insufficient funds in the deceased’s estate we try other options.
Before we arrange a funeral, we will ask any next of kin to prove that they cannot pay for the funeral.
Property and belongings of the deceased person
We will make the property secure. Any keys or property that belonged to the deceased must be given to the Council for safekeeping.
You must not remove items from the property unless you have legal authority to do so.
When it is confirmed that we are arranging the funeral we have the first claim on the estate.
We cannot arrange to dispose of furniture or the personal belongings of the deceased. The estate or the owner of the property should pay for clearing the property.
We will tell the Treasury Solicitor if there is money left after funeral expenses are paid and there is no-one to inherit it.
Freedom of Information requests
You can request information about public funerals from FOI@cheshireeast.gov.uk.
Telephone: 0300 123 5015
Page last reviewed: 13 June 2023
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