If no one can arrange the funeral

There are occasions when people die and there are no relatives or friends available to arrange their funeral.

In such cases, Medway Bereavement Services may make the funeral arrangements on behalf of the deceased. These are known as public health funerals, and fulfil a legal obligation under the provisions of the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984.

Where Medway Council takes on this responsibility, we can:

  • register the death
  • deal with the undertakers and organise the details of the funeral
  • pay for the funeral and recover expenses where possible
  • refer cases to the Treasury Solicitor (TSoL)

If a family claim that they cannot make the funeral arrangements, we'll ask them to complete a release form. This helps to make sure that we are honest and acting lawfully. 

We will not:

  • get involved if any funeral arrangements have already been made or the funeral has already taken place
  • part fund a funeral or contribute to the cost of a funeral which has already been organised by someone else
  • undertake funeral arrangements if the deceased died in hospital or in an ambulance on the way to hospital. Under these circumstances the hospital authorities must take responsibility

Burial or cremation

The choice between burial and cremation will usually take into account the known views of the deceased, including religious preference. A minister of religion or other celebrant may be appointed to conduct the service. Where there are no explicit instructions from the deceased, or the deceased had no known religious beliefs, a minister may not be provided.

If cremation was chosen, the cremated remains of the deceased will be scattered in the Gardens of Remembrance unless the deceased left other specific written instructions.

The council would not normally undertake funeral arrangements if the next of kin were in receipt of benefits, as they may be entitled to a funeral payment from the Social Fund.