Undertakers warn funeral grant 'not enough'

Last updated 05:00 27/02/2014

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The funeral home industry has called for Work and Income's grant scheme to be independently reviewed after a pensioner was forced to move out of his rented flat to pay for his wife's funeral.

Ken Allen, 81, applied for a grant to help with the $7367 cost, but was not eligible because his savings of about $8700 were well in excess of the asset limit of $1720.

Kapiti Funeral Homes managing director Andrew Malcolm said an independent review of the Work and Income grant and the criteria for eligibility seemed "long overdue".

"Mr Allen was penalised for being prudent, saving for the inevitable. The irony is those who save nothing will receive the full amount of the funeral grant," he said.

Funeral directors had made representations to successive governments to review the grant, and ideally to make it consistent with the ACC funeral grant.

The current maximum Work and Income grant is $1971.37, compared with $5879.81 paid by ACC towards funeral expenses after an accidental death.

"The Winz grant does not even cover cemetery fees," Mr Malcolm said.

Kapiti Funeral Home's fees represented only 29 per cent of Mr Allen's total invoice, he said, which included cemetery fees, newspaper notices, a celebrant's gratuity and a death certificate.

A Ministry of Social Development spokesman said any change to the amount paid for a funeral grant would require a law change.

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- The Dominion Post

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