Public Health Funerals

Inverclyde Council has a duty under section 50 of National Assistance Act 1948 to arrange for the burial or cremation of a person who has died or been found dead in their area, and where it appears that no suitable arrangements for the disposal of the body have been or are being made. 

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

a) The police, social care, or Inverclyde Royal Hospital 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 and that there are no other known relatives or interested parties expected to do so.

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.

Death registration

In Scotland someone must register the death before a funeral may be arranged. Normally this will be the police, social care, or Inverclyde Royal Hospital.

Funeral arrangements

If we are satisfied that funeral arrangements have been relinquished to Environmental Health, we'll make arrangements with an undertaker. They will arrange to collect the body and bury in common ground at a local cemetery.  This is done at a time and date convenient to them.  We are only notified once the burial has taken place.  There is no funeral service and only the undertaker is present at the burial.

Environmental Health will not keep interested parties advised about arrangements, although we will notify them once the burial has taken place if they wish to visit the common grave.

Recovery of costs

Since a National Assistance Act funeral is a public expense, Environmental Health will try to recover the cost from the deceased's estate.

Freedom of Information requests

Information on public health funerals arranged by Environmental Health since 2014 is available to download from this page.

The following information is not available from Inverclyde 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.

Page last updated: 9 October 2018