Public health funerals

If somebody dies in Dacorum and it appears that no suitable arrangements have been made, we have a responsibility to make sure that a person receives a proper burial or cremation (Section 46 of the 1984 Public Health Act).

This usually happens when someone dies with no known blood relatives or has relatives who can not or do not want to be involved.

When does this happen?

We will arrange a public health funeral when a person dies on the street or in their own home and there are no friends or relatives willing to take responsibility (financial or otherwise) for the funeral expenses.

We normally act on instructions from the Coroner's Office. 

We will not arrange a funeral when:

  • funeral arrangements have already been made. For example, if a funeral director has already been instructed, we will not be responsible for any costs
  • the deceased was an in-patient at a local hospital, as the hospital will arrange the funeral
  • the deceased was resident in a nursing home and the home, relatives or social services are managing the deceased's finances
  • the deceased's finances were being managed by social services
  • the relative of the deceased cannot afford to pay for the funeral. Relatives should contact the local Jobcentre Plus or social security offices, as they may qualify for financial assistance.

Recovering our costs

Wherever possible we will recover expenses from the deceased’s estate to limit the cost to the taxpayer.

Under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 the funeral costs are the first expenses claimed in any estate. We are entitled to collect any sums of money due to or belonging to the deceased and to sell any belongings of the deceased in order to help offset the costs of the funeral and expenses.

After we have deducted the funeral and associated costs, if:

  • the remaining estate is over £500;
  • there are no other bills outstanding; or,
  • there is no known next of kin;

we will refer the remaining estate to the Treasury Solicitor.

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Page Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2023 at 11:18 AM