Public Health Burials and Cremations

Under the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 the council has a legal duty to bury or cremate the body of any person who has died in Oxford where no other arrangements are, or are likely to be made for their disposal.

People who die in hospital should not be referred to us as the Health Service (NHS) will take responsibility for tracing relatives and arranging the funeral where necessary.

What we will do

We believe that everyone, regardless of their personal circumstances, is entitled to a dignified cremation or burial and to be treated with respect.

We will where possible accommodate the wishes of the deceased if they have expressed a preference for either cremation or burial. 

In cases where the deceased has left no will but is survived by relatives, we will contact the next of kin to discuss what arrangements are to be made. In the first instance we will contact the mother or father of the deceased, then their partners and children.

Recovery of our costs 

We are able to recover the costs of the cremation or burial and all reasonable costs incurred from the estate. These include:

  • Time taken trying to locate relatives of the deceased and for making arrangements for the cremation or burial.
  • The cost of the funeral.

In cases where the deceased appears to have no next of kin but leaves a large substantial estate, we will refer this to the Government Legal Department for further investigation.

Help with funeral costs

If you are worried that you are unable to pay for the costs of a relative's funeral, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get a grant to help with costs from the Government.  For more information visit the GOV.UK website.