Public Health Funerals

Our Duty to Carry Out Public Heath Funerals

The Council has a duty to arrange for the burial or cremation of any person who dies or is found dead in its area, where it appears that no funeral arrangements are being made or are likely to be made. The Council is usually called upon where people have died either without family or without family who are willing or able to make the necessary arrangements.

You should be aware that a Council arranged funeral will be quite basic, with no headstone, order of service or flowers provided. Our burials take place in a shared Council plot.

The costs incurred will be claimed back from the deceased’s estate.

Before you apply for a Public Health Funeral please read through the affordable alternatives below, which would allow you to have more control over the funeral arrangements.

Funeral Expenses and Alternatives

If you are unable to meet the cost of funeral expenses and are in receipt of state benefits, you can apply for financial assistance from the Department for Work and Pensions. They will cover the cost of the burial or cremation fee and the minister’s fee, along with a further £1000 contribution to costs. For more information please visit Get Help with Funeral Expenses. 

You can also get free help from Down to Earth an organisation which offers practical support to those struggling with funeral costs. They have produced a guide to planning an affordable and meaningful funeral

If you are unable to meet the cost of funeral expenses and are not in receipt of state benefits, you may wish to first check the funeral costs in your area using the comparison site Your Funeral Choice

You do not legally have to use the services of a funeral director, and can reduce costs significantly by carrying out the funeral planning yourself, buying elements of the funeral separately and online. Guidance on how to do this is available from The Natural Death Centre. 

Direct cremation is a new and very low cost option which you may also wish to research online.


If a Public Health Funeral is needed please call Environmental Health on 01424 787550.

Register of Public Health Funerals

Due to the frequency of Freedom of Information requests concerning assisted burials, we publish these online

Private Burials

Private burials on land other than a recognised burial ground or cemetery, such as a domestic garden, are possible providing certain procedures are followed. Contact this office for further information and guidance.
For those interested in Woodland Burials The Natural Death Centre  may be of interest.


Permission is required from the Home Office or the Diocese if the remains are to be reinterred in the same church graveyard. As a first step it is advisable to contact your local funeral director .