INVERCLYDE Council has performed a u-turn and lifted a ban on families attending public health funerals.

It recently emerged the local authority did not allow families to attend the funerals, which are arranged by councils when relatives are unable or unwilling to pay for one, or there is no traceable family.

Inverclyde was one of 14 councils in the UK who had such a policy in place.

However, Municipal Buildings bosses have since announced they will allow relatives to mourn at the graveside when the funeral is taking place.

Councillor Graeme Brooks, who is licensed to perform funerals and weddings, said he was pleased to hear the change of policy.

He said: “We have to allow families the dignity to be able to mourn the loss of loved ones.

“I very much welcome this move to allow them to attend.

“Should families require something more than what a public health funeral offers, I know I would be more than happy to speak with them about how we can help. 

“The door is always open.”

A council spokesman confirmed the recent change to its policy on public health funerals and outlined support available to families struggling to meet costs of laying their loved ones to rest.

He said: “Family and friends are now able to attend.

“When someone dies their family or friends are responsible for arranging their funeral. 

“Funerals can be expensive but help is available to people on benefits through Funeral Support Payments. 

“The council also offers bereaved families the opportunity for a budget funeral service.

“A ‘simple funeral’ is where a service is carried out elsewhere - often at a funeral parlour - with the coffin then taken to the crematorium without any mourners.  A simple funeral maintains all of the dignity and respect for the deceased that you would expect and want but at a fraction of the cost.

“While this service won’t appeal to everyone it is an option and the cost is £375.

“A public health funeral is very much a last resort and usually only happens when all efforts to identify the deceased person’s next of kin have failed. 

“While we ensure anyone who receives a public health funeral is treated with the utmost dignity, there is no religious or civil service.”