MORE THAN £61,000 of taxpayers money has been spent on public health funerals in Solihull in the past five years.
A total of 40 funerals have been held in that time for people who die in the borough and living relatives cannot be found, or they are unable or unwilling to pay any funeral expenses.
A total of £61,093 was spent between tax year 2014/15 and 2018/19 on 37 cremations and three burials, Solihull Council figures show.
A public health funeral, often known as a ‘pauper’s funeral’ is overseen by the council.
A coffin is provided and a short service is given.
The services do not include flowers, viewings, obituaries or transport for family members.
In most cases there is a cremation but occasionally a burial is carried out if the deceased had already purchased a plot or would have chosen one for religious or cultural reasons and these graves are left unmarked.
In 2015/16 there were 13 public funerals held in the borough costing £25,365, with one burial and 12 cremations taking place.
Last year – 2018/19 – five cremations took place costing £6,396.
In some cases Solihull Council is able to recover some of the costs of the funerals from the deceased’s estate.
Councillor Alison Rolf, cabinet member for stronger and safer communities said: “The council has a statutory duty to provide a public funeral when there is no next of kin, next of kin cannot be located, or next of kin are unwilling or unable to pay for the funeral themselves.
“Each funeral and the circumstances behind it are unique.
“It is important that we provide a respectful and dignified service while being mindful of the costs.”