DOZENS of people in Herefordshire have been buried or cremated in 'pauper funerals' in recent years.

The figures have been revealed by a freedom of information request to Herefordshire Council, asking the authority how many public health funerals, otherwise known as 'pauper funerals' had been carried out between 2018 and 2023.

The numbers reveal that a total of 51 public health funerals were carried out in the county between 2018 and 2023, with the greatest number reported during 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.


With the exception of that year, in which there were 15, every other year listed saw fewer than 10, with nine in 2019, 2021, and 2023, four in 2022, and five in 2018.

Herefordshire Council said that there is currently an option for people to attend these funerals, while it will carry out burials rather than cremations if this is requested in a will or if the deceased is a member of a religious group that does not accept cremation. Other information will be reviewed, it said, but must have direct relation to the deceased's wishes and not those of family or friends.

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Ashes can be returned to family or next of kin if requested, the council said, with no charge levied.

What is a public health funeral?

In brief, such funerals are provided by local authorities for people who have died with no next of kin, or whose next of kin, relatives or friends are unable or unwilling to make the necessary arrangements for a funeral.

They are designed to protect public health and are important in ensuring that all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their circumstances, Government guidance says.