sad graveIn the UK indigent or pauper funerals are publicly funded, much the same as in Australia. However, it is the local councils that seem to be paying, not the State. According to a news item at the BBC, the cost to local councils of so-called "paupers' funerals" has risen almost 30% to £1.7m ($3.54m AU) in the past four years.

The number of these funerals has also risen by 11%, a Freedom of Information request by BBC Local Radio revealed.

Public health funerals, as they are known, are carried out by local authorities for people who die alone or without relatives able to pay.

These increases may be due to people living longer and dying alone, and a rise in fees, industry figures said.

The Local Government Association said the "tragic figures speak for themselves".

As part of the research, 436 councils in the UK were asked questions about how many public health funerals they carry out and how much these cost them.

Of the 409 who are responsible for public health funerals, 300 gave full responses.

The results show councils carried out 2,580 public health funerals in 12 months spanning 2013-14, which represents a small fraction of the 500,000 or so people who die in the UK each year.

Overall, north-west England has the greatest number of public health funerals, followed by London.

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