NEARLY 100 people have been given ‘paupers’ funerals’ in Oxford since 2009 – at a cost of more than £120,000.

But the number of people buried or cremated by Oxford City Council – in the absence of other arrangements being made – has fallen in each of the last two years.

In total, £120,689 was spent on the ceremonies between the last quarter of 2009 and mid 2018.

That’s according to council figures, accurate as of January 17 this year, on services for people who have died alone, in poverty or without relatives.

The statistics reveal that there were seven ceremonies – called ‘Public Health Funerals’ by the council – last year, and 13 in 2017; at a cost of £14,944 and £18,699 respectively.


There were 18 in 2016, 15 the year before and just one in 2009. The statistics have remained fairly stable – in the mid-teens – since 2013.

The vast majority of those involved were cremated rather than buried, though data on the funeral type is not available prior to 2015.

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The council explains: “Under the Public Health Act 1984 the council has a legal duty to bury or cremate the body of any person who has died in Oxford where no other arrangements are, or are likely to be, made for their disposal.

“We believe that everyone, regardless of their personal circumstances, is entitled to a dignified funeral and to be treated with respect.”

The most recent funeral, according to the data available, took place in September 2018, for a 74-year-old woman, whose next of kin were found but did not take responsibility for the cremation.

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The council continued: “We will where possible accommodate the wishes of the deceased if they have expressed a preference for either burial or cremation. We will also provide a floral tribute and in certain circumstances may be able to carry out other requests where budget allows.

“In cases where the deceased has left no will but is survived by relatives, we will contact the next of kin to discuss what arrangements are to be made.”

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Explaining the ceremony on its website, it added: “We are able to recover the costs of the funeral and all reasonable costs incurred from the estate.

Responsibility for tracing relatives and making funeral arrangements for those who die in hospital is the responsibility of the NHS, the council added.

It did not immediately clarify where most of the funerals take place.