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Public health funerals

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Home   Births, marriages and deaths   Deaths   Public health funerals

Public health funerals

Environmental Health sometimes has to arrange a funeral where the remains of a person who has died in North Ayrshire require to be disposed of in circumstances where no one else has made, or appears to be making, suitable arrangements.

Please Note: Where the family want to arrange the funeral but cannot afford to pay for it, they should contact the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The DWP can pay a Funeral Payment to qualifying applicants (eg partner, close relative or friend of the deceased) if they are on qualifying benefits or tax credits.

Section 50 of the National Assistance Act 1948 may be invoked where a person has died in North Ayrshire in the following circumstances:

a) The police have advised us that there is an unclaimed body, or

b) A friend or a family member who has assumed the role of 'next of kin' has advised us that there is no close family able or willing to arrange the funeral.

In the case of b) above, Environmental Health will not act immediately. We have to take steps before committing to public expenditure to satisfy ourselves that no one is likely to come forward to make the arrangements. Normally we require official notification (usually from the police) that no one is making the funeral arrangements and that there are no other known relatives or interested parties likely to do so.

Death registration

In Scotland someone must register the death before a funeral may be arranged. 

In cases where the body is unclaimed, Environmental Health can register the death.

Funeral arrangements

If we are satisfied that funeral arrangements have been relinquished to Environmental Health, we'll make arrangements with an undertaker. Unless there is information that the deceased can be buried in an existing lair, we'll arrange a cremation at Holmsford Bridge Crematorium, Dreghorn.

Environmental Health is not obliged to keep interested parties advised about arrangements. If contacted, we will provide details about the date/time of the service. Ashes are normally scattered in the Garden of Remembrance at Holmsford Bridge Crematorium unless we are contacted and alternative arrangements are agreed beforehand.

Recovery of costs

Since a National Assistance Act funeral is at public expense, Environmental Health will try to recover the cost from the deceased's estate. After we have settled the bill, we will write to the person who initiated the request for a National Assistance Act funeral and ask them to pass the letter to the solicitor winding up the deceased's affairs.

Where we have not been contacted by a family member, or a nominal next of kin, we pass the information to the Ultimus Haeres section of the Procurator Fiscal Service.

Freedom of Information requests

View information on public health funerals (PDF, 72kb) arranged by Environmental Health since 2011, or access the information on our Open Data Portal.

The following information is not available from North Ayrshire Council:

  • Name of Deceased, Maiden Surnames & Last Known Address - The Council considers this information to be exempt under Section 26(a) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 - Prohibition on Disclosure by another Enactment. The enactment under which the Council claims this exemption is Section 6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998, which states it is unlawful to act in a way incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Convention Article in question is Article 8 which confers a right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence. The Council considers that this is information that relates to deceased persons which might interfere with the Article 8 rights of others, for example family members, even when the data is not their own 'personal data'.
  • Estates - No information has been referred or is due to be referred to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (Ultimus Haeres Unit) as we were unaware of any assets or heritable estates associated with the funerals.

    Contact Environmental Health

    Email

    environmentalhealth@north-ayrshire.gov.uk

    Telephone

    01294 324339

    Address

    North Ayrshire Council, Economy and Communities, Environmental Health, Cunninghame House, Irvine, KA12 8EE