Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Increase of burial costs add financial burden for those relying on funeral grants

Funeral directors say the latest cost of living increases to council cemetery prices are adding to the financial burden for those relying on a Work and Income Funeral Grant to help with funeral costs.

Burial costs are up to six times higher compared to in some parts of New Zealand than in others a postcode lottery on death is compounding the issue. Funeral Directors Association Chief Executive, Gillian Boyes, says the cost for a funeral includes both funeral director costs and the costs of all the underlying goods and services.

“Burial and cremation costs are one of the biggest elements of a funeral bill so when those jump each year funerals suddenly seem a lot more expensive,” says Ms Boyes.

“Add to that increases from other suppliers, staffing costs going up, and the petrol levy ending and the essential services that the Work and Income funeral grant is meant to help cover, generally actually would now cost between $7,500 – $10,000. That makes the maximum actual grant of $2445.37 look pretty paltry.”

The Work and Income Funeral Grant is designed as a contribution toward funeral costs for those with very limited income and assets. Only ‘essential’ elements of the funeral are included and there is no extra available for those who die in more expensive parts of the country.

“Burial costs in Taupo are a relatively modest $1,170 after the latest Council CPI increases, but they’re a whopping $6,112 at Manukau Memorial Gardens and North Shore Memorial Park, and in New Plymouth they’re an eye-watering $7,207,” says Ms Boyes.

“Those prices really take burial as an option off the table for those of limited means and yet we know for many of our families burial is a preferred option for cultural or religious reasons.”

The Funeral Directors Association has been calling for a substantive increase in the Work and Income Funeral Grant. They note another Government-funded grant, the ACC Funeral Grant is currently set at $7,491.95.

“The sad reality is that at a time when a very low-income family is hurting and grieving and just wants to remember their loved one, they are going to be faced with the added pain of a big bill. The welfare safety net has got a whopping great hole in it when it comes to helping families with the end of life.”

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