In some circumstances, the Council has to take responsibility for arranging funerals.  This comes under the Public Health (control of disease) act 1984.

Public health funerals are provided by Doncaster Council for people who have passed away and have 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.

The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 places a statutory duty on local authorities to arrange for a burial or cremation where no suitable alternative arrangements are being made. This is a dignified but basic funeral that minimises the cost to the local taxpayer, and unless specific instructions from the deceased have been found will be a cremation at Rose Hill.  The only exception would be if the deceased or family had a strong objection to cremation, in which case a burial in a public grave would be arranged in Rose Hill Cemetery.

While there is no legal requirement to locate next of kin, Doncaster employs good practice to try to do so in order to inform the bereaved that their relative has passed away, and to provide families with the option of organising the funeral themselves should they wish to. The next of kin can also play an important role in advising authorities of the deceased’s personal wishes, including any requirements they had in relation to their religion or beliefs, which can help to determine whether a burial or cremation is more appropriate.

Beyond the method of committal (burial or cremation), local authorities are not legally required to accommodate any requirements the deceased may have had in relation to their religion or belief.  However, out of respect, when at all possible, Doncaster seeks to reflect these in their public health funeral arrangements.

The costs of a public health funeral can be recouped from the deceased’s estate. However, in some cases, the deceased may have no estate from which costs can be recovered, meaning that the whole cost of the funeral is borne by Doncaster Council.

Local authorities are not responsible for managing the deceased’s estate, beyond their right to recoup funeral costs.


If you are the relative of the person who has died, and cannot afford to pay for a funeral, and are in receipt of certain welfare benefits, it is possible that you will qualify for financial help to cover the cost.  For more information on this you should contact the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on one of the following numbers or visit their website:

  • Telephone: 0800 169 0140
  • Textphone: 0800 169 0286
  • Welsh language: 0800 169 0240

(telephone lines open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm)

Please be aware that if you have already made arrangements with a Funeral Director the Council will not take responsibility for the funeral by part funding the costs nor will it be responsible for any costs incurred.

 Public Health Funerals - Freedom of Information Requests (FOI)

We are frequently asked for information about public health funerals and people who have died with no known next of kin.

In response to the volume of FOI requests on this subject we have published all such cases we have an involvement in. These will be updated on a quarterly basis and listings contain information that can be made publicly available (see links to the right of this page)

This means we are able to refer those requesting information on this subject to this page which in turn enables the Council to deal with such requests pursuant to section 21 of the FOI Act (information accessible to applicant by other means).

Also frequently requested is the cost of such funerals:

Year Average cost Total
2016/17 £1,283 £115,495
2017/18 £1,249 £67,427
2018/19 £1,387 £77,663
2019/20 £1,163 £32,573
2020/21 £1,265 £65,756
2021/22   £1,525 £54,700
2022/23    £1,548 £80,963
2023/24 £1,660  £80,752
2024/25 £1,691  


Last updated: 03 June 2024 15:52:10