The council has a statutory duty to arrange a funeral if no other arrangements have been or are being made.

The Council can't become involved in funeral arrangements if:

  • funeral arrangements have already been made or the funeral has taken place
  • the deceased made a will, unless the executor revokes the will
  • the deceased died in hospital in the borough - the hospital will arrange the funeral

Our statutory duty

The Council has a statutory duty to carry out the funeral arrangements of a person who dies within the London Borough of Sutton’s boundaries (excluding deaths in hospital) where no other arrangements have been or are being made.

This is under the provisions of Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.

Next of kin

The Council will not become involved if funeral arrangements have already been made or if the funeral has already taken place. Anyone giving instruction to a firm of funeral directors is responsible for any costs incurred.

The Council expects the next of kin to take full responsibility for the deceased’s funeral. We will only carry out a public health funeral for someone with living relatives in exceptional circumstances.

If living relatives can't pay for the funeral, you can apply for a funeral expenses grant. This is available if you recieve income-related qualifying benefits. Find out more about funeral expenses grants on GOV.UK.

Recovering funeral costs

Funeral costs are the first charge on a person’s estate, taking priority over other debts. Sutton Council will seek reimbursement for the funeral costs.

Council Officers have statutory authorisation to enter a property. They will do this to find out the extent of the estate and to remove any items or assets which may assist in funding the funeral. 

This is under the provisions of section 61(1)(d) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.

Funerals arranged by the council

Recent statistics suggest that approximately 70% of funerals in England are cremations and only 30% are burials. 

The council will arrange a simple cremation service for statutory funerals. Cremation services take place at North East Surrey Crematorium.

We can arrange a burial if the person:

  • is part of a religion that forbids cremation
  • has written evidence in their will that they wanted to be buried

Next of kin and friends who express a wish to attend the service will be given the funeral details.

The Council will not pay for a minister of religion, a religious representative of the faith, or humanist to conduct the service.

The cremated remains will be scattered in the Garden of Remembrance located at the crematorium. A request may be made by a next of kin/close friend to take the ashes away for private disposal.

Further information about public health funerals

Email us for more information about public health funerals on

You can also call us on 020 8770 5000 and ask to speak to the Protection of Property Officer.

You can view data on the public health funerals the Council has undertaken in recent years.

Other help available

You can apply for a Bereavement Support Payment if you meet the eligibility criteria.

You can get free and confidential advice, information, and guidance from Down To Earth. They are a London-based charity but they can help with funerals anywhere in the UK.

The Citizens Advice Bureau also offer funeral advice.