Wednesday 21 March 2018

Grieving families to lose out on payment

FUNERAL directors in Dundalk say that bereaved families will be hit with the removal of the €850 funeral payment that was announced in budget 2014.

Former director of the Irish Association of Funeral Directors and Dundalk-based undertaker, Gerard Quinn, said the €850 payment was 'not something that everyone knew about', but was available to all those who had made PRSI contributions.

Mr. Quinn said: 'This payment is something that has been in existence for well over 30 years in some shape or form. The word 'grant' is misleading because people were paying for it through their PRSI contributions and older people, who made the social insurance payments for things like their pension, were also expecting to get this contribution towards funeral expenses'.

He said the payment was useful for helping to pay for 'big ticket' items such as the purchase of or opening of a grave. Mr. Quinn added: 'The payment didn't keep up with inflation or anything, but it was a contribution towards the costs that are incurred when a loved one dies and it was something that families welcomed'.

Now, those who are struggling to pay for the cost of a funeral will have to make an application to the HSE through the community welfare office. This will be means tested and while it has always been available, it is something that Mr. Quinn believes not many knew about.

He also thinks there will be an increase in the numbers asking for this means-tested payment, 'so it is difficult to see where the savings outlined in the budget will be made'.

Mr. Quinn added: 'I think in general it is not good for families and it was British Prime Minister, William Gladstone who said: "Show me the manner in which a nation or a community cares for its dead. I will measure exactly the sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals".'

The Argus