For the purposes of disease control the council has powers to arrange public health funerals, sometimes referred to as 'welfare funerals' or 'welfare burials', where there is no-one else to make these arrangements.
The enabling act is the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. This may occur where there is no family involvement and no other arrangements have been made. It is therefore left to the council to dispose of the body, and this will be by the cheapest method, usually cremation. Following a cremation the ashes will be scattered in the crematorium gardens 6 months after the date of the cremation, unless the ashes are claimed.
A copy of this legislation can be viewed on the government's National Archives website:
Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 website
There is no requirement for the council to provide a funeral service, and often the cremation has to fit in around available appointments at the crematorium, so it is not possible to set an exact time and date. The council has further powers to collect money of the deceased to cover the council's costs in making these arrangements.
If there are remaining funds after costs have been recovered these are usually passed to the Treasury Solicitor, in the absence of any known family. The downloadable document below contains details of public health funerals we have undertaken recently.
Public Health Funerals (pdf 167kb)
For further advice and information please contact our environmental control team: