More than £300,000 has been handed out in the north-east in the first year of a new funeral support fund.
The Scottish Government launched Funeral Support Payments in September last year through Social Security Scotland.
A total of £8.7m has been handed out to almost 6,000 people since – with £309,810 of this in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
A further £70,640 was also given to Moray residents, and £118,980 to those living in Angus.
The money is given to those who have lost a loved one, with eligible applicants receiving an average of £1,761 to assist with the costs of a burial or cremation, and other expenses such as travel and flowers.
Amounts handed out to eligible applicants differ depending on the local authority area they live in, and also differ depending on whether they are being buried or cremated.
In Aberdeen, those seeking help towards burial and plot may receive £1,555, while for burial only the amount Is £680 and for cremation it is £704.
In Aberdeenshire, for burial and plot it would be £1,889, for burial only the amount is £881 and for cremation it is £704.
For those in Moray, burial and plot costs given are £1,739, burial only would be £931 and cremation is £1,070.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult events any of us can face – it’s even harder when there’s extra stress trying to find the money to pay for a funeral.
“It’s important that we support people at key times like this. We want to do what we can to stop those who are dealing with grief having to get into debt too.
“The economic impact of Covid-19 means many more people are receiving Universal Credit or other qualifying benefits than previously, which means they could also be eligible for the Funeral Support Payment.
“I’d encourage anyone who thinks they might qualify for this important financial support to find out more and apply. People can apply for the payment up to 6 months after a funeral has taken place, although if you could not apply within this timescale because of Covid-19, we’ll accept your application as on time.
“Making sure that everyone gets the financial support they are entitled to is a basic step in putting dignity and respect at the heart of social security in Scotland.”
Those eligible for a Funeral Support payment include those who live in Scotland who receive certain benefits or tax credits, or a partner does, and the person who died lived in the UK.
The funeral must be held in the UK or in some circumstances in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, the application is being made after the person has died until six months after the date of the funeral, you or your partner are responsible for the funeral and it is reasonable for you or your partner to accept responsibility for the funeral costs.
Guidance from the Scottish Government adds: “Usually, it is reasonable for the nearest relative of the person who died to accept responsibility for the funeral costs.
“A nearest relative could be a partner, child, parent or sibling. If you or your partner are not the nearest relative, you’ll need to explain to us when you apply, why it’s reasonable to have accepted responsibility.”