MORE than 50 bereaved Alloa families are expected to access financial support for funerals each year under a Scottish benefit launched this week.

A 40 per cent increase in those eligible is expected as the Scottish Government's Funeral Support Payment replaced the DWP's Funeral Expense Payment.

Clacks funeral director Steven Inglis, of Hillview Funeral Service, welcomed the scheme, explaining it will offer help to more families at a difficult time.

He said: "Across Clackmannanshire, poverty is forcing the hand of families, stripping them of choice and, often, a sense of dignity.

"With increased eligibility and simplified application process, the new Funeral Support Payment will offer more families access to financial support than ever before.

"Every human being deserves a dignified, respectful send-off and all bereaved families need appropriate closure and time to grieve.

"It's my hope that the new, devolved benefits system will give families that sense of dignity at their time of need."

The payment is administered by Social Security Scotland and should be open to applications since Monday, September 16.

It helps with burial or cremation as well as some travel costs and a flat rate of £700 is given for people wo do not have funeral costs.

The Scottish Government said the figure will go up each year in line with inflation.

While costs vary across Scotland, on average cremations are around £3,000 for cremations and £4,000 for burials.

Hillview works in partnership with funeral plan provider Golden Charter, which supported the consultation on the scheme and has been keen to see it rolled out.

Gordon Swan, director of communications at Golden Charter, added: "Funeral poverty remains a major issue and the Funeral Support Payment will ensure that more Scots who qualify can receive financial help at a time when money should not be their biggest concern.

"Just as importantly the new system has been designed to make the application process simpler and clearer.

"Independent funeral directors have supported the launch and are committed to keeping costs down while delivering the personal service that families value."

Call 0800 182 2222 or visit to claim.