Speak out – advocating for bereaved people

Cruse acts as the ‘voice of bereaved people’ speaking out on issues that impact on those who are bereaved. This can be anything from a government policy on bereavement benefits to how companies treat their bereaved customers.

Cruse relies on the support of bereaved people in our campaigning and lobbying role. This can be through sharing your story, speaking to the media, giving feedback to a consultation or completing a survey and giving us your views.

Key issues that Cruse is currently concerned about

Proposed reforms to Death Certification
Funeral poverty
The treatment of bereaved customers
Bereavement in the workplace
Bereavement support payment

Proposed reforms to Death Certification

Following the Shipman Inquiry after Dr Harold Shipman was convicted of murdering 15 patients (and possibly killing over 200) and the Francis Inquiry into concerns in Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust the proposed changes aim to improve safeguards with relatives having the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns; simplify the process and improve the quality and accuracy of medical certificates of cause of death (MCCDs).

The proposed reforms include introducing a new role of medical examiner, who will scrutinise and confirm the cause of all deaths that are not referred to the Coroner for investigation.  They will review medical records, speak to the GP and talk to the family/representative of the family about the cause of death.   

Cruse welcomes:

  • Improved safeguarding and simpler process.
  • Families will have the cause of death explained and be able to ask questions and raise concerns.
  • More appropriate referrals to the Coroner.

Our concerns:

  • The costs of the new medical examiner system will be passed on to bereaved people.
  • This is an additional cost for those who opt for burial.
  • The costs may be higher than predicted by the consultation and more than existing costs.

What you can do

Many thanks to those who responded to our survey. We have collated the replies and submitted our response to the consultation. We will update here when we know more.

In the meantime you can read more about the government's plans, and if you are concerned write to your MP.

Funeral poverty

In 2014 the cost of dying rose seven times faster than the cost of living. The average cost of a basic funeral in the UK in 2014 was £3,702 an increase of 3.9% on the previous year. The price of funerals has risen above inflation for the past 35 years. Alongside this, financial support from the state has been eroded. In 2014-15 only 63% of those applying for a funeral payment were successful. The average award made was only 37% of the price of a basic funeral. This means more and more people are finding they cannot afford a funeral when someone dies and are being forced into debt. Cruse wants all bereaved people to be able to access a dignified funeral for someone close.   

Cruse is calling for:

  • Reforms to the Social Fund including broadening eligibility, simplification of processes & a level of funding that provides more than a contribution towards costs.
  • Access to advice, information and support for bereaved people when they are faced with the challenges of paying for a funeral.
  • Transparent, accessible information from all providers.
  • All Funeral directors to make visible a simple funeral service.     

What you can do

Share your experience with Cruse, or speak to the media. Email Press@Cruse.org.uk

Find out more about the Funeral Poverty Alliance, and sign up as a supporter or to receive updates.

A parliamentary petition calling for an end to children's funeral fees has received more MP signatures than any other for the whole of 2016. A total of 169 politicians have now signed.

This is down to campaign supporters contacting their MPs and asking them to sign the petition. Click here to see if your MP has signed.

The treatment of bereaved customers

Bereavement has a significant impact on mental and physical health. At such a stressful time it can be very difficult for bereaved people to deal with organisations, companies and professional bodies.  Cruse wants all banks and financial institutions to sign up the British Bankers Association Bereavement Principles for the treatment of bereaved customers and for other industries to adopt similar standards. This includes treating customers with compassion and respect; providing practical, jargon-free information; signposting to external sources of help; responding rapidly, suppressing  marketing and providing a single point of contact. Any organisation providing a customer service should consider how they can provide the best service for those who are bereaved; train all their employees who come into contact with bereaved people; consider having specialist teams and seek feedback from bereaved customers.   

Cruse is calling for:

All banks and financial institutions to sign up the British Bankers Association Bereavement Principles for the treatment of bereaved customers

Other industries to adopt similar standards

  • treat customers with compassion and respect
  • provide practical, jargon-free information
  • signpost to external sources of help
  • respond rapidly
  • suppress marketing
  • provide a single point of contact
  • consider how to provide the best service for those who are bereaved
  • train all employees who come into contact with bereaved people
  • consider having specialist teams
  • seek feedback from bereaved customers.   

What you can do

Share your customer experience, or speak to the media
Email Press@Cruse.org.uk
Share your business’s/organisation’s experience of improving practice   
Sign up to the British Bankers Association Principles.
Train all staff who come into contact with bereaved customers.
Contact your MP to share your concerns.

Bereavement in the workplace 

When someone is bereaved it is vital that employers recognise the impact and provide appropriate support within the workplace. This includes providing compassionate leave and a caring response on return to work. All organisations should have a bereavement policy in place and provide training to all line managers and HR professionals.

Cruse is calling for:

  • Statutory bereavement leave 
  • All employers to have a bereavement policy in place
  • All line managers and HR professionals to be trained in bereavement in the workplace.

What you can do

Share your experience good and bad  or speak to the media
Email Press@Cruse.org.uk.
Arrange training for your workplace.
Encourage your employer to introduce a bereavement policy.
Buy our Cruse Managing Bereavement in the Workplace Toolkit for your line managers.
Contact your MP to share your concerns.


Bereavement support payment

From 6th April 2017 the Government implemented significant changes to bereavement benefits received by UK families – changes which mean 75% of all families with children are likely to be worse off financially. The cuts to benefits come into effect as new research reveals that two thirds of widowed parents are not financially prepared for bereavement, with around one in six widowed parents admitting that they had been forced to re-locate or move home as a result of their partner’s death. 

91% of newly widowed parents will be supported for a shorter time, and 75% will be worse off in cash terms (by £12,000 for the average working parent, but by over £30,000 in certain circumstances). Those with younger children will be disproportionately badly affected.

We welcome the new eligibility of <45 year olds without children, the tax-free status, the relaxed NI contribution condition and the disregard from means-tested benefit, but we are very concerned about the duration of support to those with children, the breaking of the index-link, and the continued ineligibility of those who weren’t married. 

Read the full details here

Read Childhood Bereavement Network's press release.

Read Childhood Bereavement Network's full briefing.

What you can do

Contact your MP

Download sample letter to your MP