Hundreds of pauper funerals in Leeds

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More than 800 ‘paupers’ funerals’ have been organised in Leeds over the last seven years, the YEP can reveal.

Hundreds of people in the city have died alone or in poverty - among those include an 89-year-old man, a 95-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman.

More than 110 public health funerals were organised in Leeds last year.

Under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, when someone dies outside of a hospital and there is no one else willing or able to pay for a funeral then the local authority must make funeral arrangements.

If a person dies in a hospital then the hospital will organise their funeral.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust administered 69 adults public health funerals in 2013 at a cost of over £89,000.

Leeds City Council organised a further 44 funerals but the public bodies are entitled to recover expenses from any estate left by the deceased in the form of a civil debt.

A spokesman from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The hospital has chaplains who will conduct the funeral on behalf of the family. We are very sensitive that it is a time of deep grief and that every deceased person deserves a dignified and appropriate send-off.”

Over the last decade a combination of the rising costs of funerals and the economic downturn have left some families too poor to afford a final farewell to their loved ones.

Usually the simple services include a basic coffin, a hearse and the burial and cremation fees - and often council staff and the funeral director are the only people in attendance.

Rev Chris Swift has conducted hundreds of public health funerals over the last 18 years on behalf of Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.

He earlier told the YEP: “Whatever you call it, it’s a funeral and it only happens once for that family.

“We think it’s really important to get it right and to do so very carefully.”

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