A FUND to help bereaved families on low incomes pay for a funeral is to be expanded as it comes under Holyrood’s control.

The new Funeral Support Payment will be open to 40 per cent more people when it replaces the Funeral Expense Payment on September 16.

The benefit, worth a standard £700 for funeral expenses alone, will be administered by Social Security Scotland instead of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

People will be able to apply over the phone, by post or online for the fund, which is expected to pay out £6m in its first year.

The three elements of the payment are for burial or cremation costs, a flat rate for expenses such as funeral director fees and coffins, in addition to certain transport costs.

Under the DWP, the average overall payment was £1,372 last year.

The SNP Government said the devolved version of the payments should avoid “parts of the DWP application process that people currently find difficult or distressing”.

Announcing the launch date, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most tragic events any of us can face. At that difficult time, it’s even harder when there’s extra stress finding the money to pay for a funeral.

“Our new Funeral Support Payment has been designed and tested with members of the public and stakeholders including funeral directors and welfare advisors to ensure the end product is one we can be proud of.

“The new support will reach far more people struggling with funeral costs and is backed by around £2m additional funding. The flat rate element of the Funeral Support Payment will be £700 for the majority of applications, and we have committed to annually uprating this in line with inflation – something the UK Government have not done since 2003.”