More than €25m has been paid out by the Department of Social Protection in assistance payments to help people meet funeral costs in the five years up to and including 2018.

Six local authorities also provided almost €75,000 during the same period to pay for the burials of people with no next of kin or where surviving family members cannot meet the cost of burial.

The department confirmed it made 14,590 exceptional needs payments worth €25.2m for funerals and burials in the five years from 2014 to 2018 inclusive.

"Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection can make a single exceptional needs payments to help meet essential, once-off expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income," the department said.

It said there is no automatic entitlement to the payment, which is means-tested.

"An application can be made under the exceptional needs payments scheme for assistance with funeral and burial expenses," the department said.

"In determining an entitlement to an exceptional needs payments for funeral expenses the officer will take into account the circumstances of the individual applicant and that of the deceased person, including any savings, property, insurance policies etc that would render the applicant or anybody else liable and/ or in a position to pay for the funeral costs.

"If a bereavement grant is available from any other source including a former employer, credit union, trade union etc, this will also be taken into account."

The Irish Examiner has submitted freedom of information requests to 31 local authorities to establish how much councils have assisted burials.

Six councils confirmed they have either provided funding towards, or waived their costs for funerals.

The six local authorities in Carlow, Clare, Galway County, Fingal, Kildare, and Tipperary provided €74,886 worth of assistance to 430 funerals.

The vast majority of funerals, 379, were in Galway, where the county council provided €45,353 worth of help over the five years.

Tipperary County Council provided €18,298 worth of assistance towards 38 funerals between 2014 and 2018, while Kildare waived €5,000 worth of burial fees for four funerals.

Clare County Council assisted seven funerals at a cost of €2,940, while Carlow and Fingal contributed €1,895 and €1,400 respectively to one burial each.

Other local authorities which said they incurred no such costs said the matter is referred to the community welfare officer who works for the Department of Social Protection.

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