Archdeacons' guidance on waiving fees for funerals and weddings

From January 1st 2013, the new fees measure raises the issue of waiving funeral or wedding fees in certain circumstances.

Several clergy have asked for clarification as to how that might happen, particularly as there is a significant increase in the fees at a time when more people are hard pressed financially. We hope the following advice may be helpful, but would value feedback as to how it works in practice.

The fees measure makes clear that clergy can consider waiving fees where there is evident financial hardship (Other reasons might apply but this is the main one). How you find that out is less clear as it requires a discreet judgement to be made by the incumbent or priest in charge. Each case must be decided individually – there cannot be a general waiver.

Funeral fees are usually already agreed with the Funeral Director before clergy get involved, but there is more likely to be a genuine need, especially if the bereavement was sudden. We will inform all Funeral Directors of the fact that clergy may waive the fees (or a proportion of them) where there is real financial hardship. In addition it would be helpful if clergy could mention that regularly when meeting their local Financial Directors.

There is also the opportunity to address the matter sensitively (or later with the FD) if they perceive on a visit that finance is a major issue.

With wedding families you need to take care that the couple are genuinely looking for savings– not simply cutting back on the church part while pushing the boat out on everything else. If you can find out what their whole budget for the wedding is and it’s less than say £1500, there may be a case for waiving. The average wedding costs these days are £15,000 and the church part is a fraction of that – but it’s a very important part!

If you deem real financial hardship to be evident, then there are two aspects to the waiver – the DBF and the PCC element.

We would suggest that the PCC fee could be reduced or waived only after consultation with the church wardens. If you wish to waive the DBF element (what used to be the Incumbent’s fee) you must consult with your archdeacon. You would need to write a paragraph stating why you feel it is necessary. The DBF fee would normally be waived entirely – not reduced – if there is good cause. We would not normally agree to the DBF fee being waived unless the PCC was waiving its fee entirely.

If you are in doubt then please contact your Archdeacon.


More guidance on funerals

Guidance on collections at Funerals