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Parish funerals

Under some circumstances, councils are responsible for making funeral arrangements. This happens when a person dies within the boundaries of the borough and

  • no funeral arrangements have been made
  • no relatives of the deceased can be found or
  • the relatives of the deceased can not or will not arrange a funeral.

What we can offer

Once the council has accepted a case, it will deal with all aspects of the organisation of a funeral, including

  • registering the death
  • dealing with the funeral directors to make the arrangements and
  • paying for the funeral.

A cremation service will normally be held, unless it is established that the deceased would have chosen burial for religious, cultural or personal reasons, or if a check reveals that the deceased owned a grave and there is room for them to be buried in it. If a burial is required and the deceased did not own a grave, burial will take place in an unmarked public grave.

The council's contracted funeral directors will provide everything necessary for a simple but dignified service, including a coffin, transport of the deceased to the crematorium or cemetery in a hearse, and sufficient bearers to transfer the coffin to the chapel. To the casual observer, the funeral will appear no different to a simple ceremony not arranged by the council.

The funeral director may also arrange for a minister of religion or a representative of the faith of the deceased to lead the service. If a non-religious service is appropriate, a civil funeral celebrant will be used. Family and friends may attend the funeral service, but will have no say in where and when it is held.

Following the cremation, the cremated remains will normally be interred in an unmarked but recorded location in the Gardens of Remembrance at the crematorium. 

Please be aware that the council may legally recover all their costs incurred in making the funeral arrangements from the estate of the deceased (i.e. their property and possessions).


The council will not be able to make funeral arrangements in cases where the deceased left a will and the executor is traced; in these circumstances the executor would be expected to organise the funeral. If the executor wishes to revoke their duties, they must make a formal renunciation of the will and declare that they wish to have no further involvement in the funeral arrangements.

If the deceased died as an in-patient in a hospital managed by an NHS Trust and there are no relatives, the NHS Trust may assume responsibility for the funeral arrangements and recover their expenses from the deceased's estate.