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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 16 July 2007

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Funeral requests not carried out for thousands in Wirral

NEW research shows that 92% of people in Wirral have decided what they would like once they have passed away reveals Age Concern. This figure rises to 94% of all people in Britain. However, less than 2% of the British public has acted on this and made their arrangements. Many have decided whether they would like to be cremated or buried, although these last wishes are not always carried out as so few have pre-planned their funeral.  Further research also shows that 55% of people in Wirral would like to be cremated and 37% buried. However the number of cremations in the UK (72%) overwhelmingly outweighs the number of burials (28%), which demonstrates the vast disparity between people’s preferences and how they are finally laid to rest.

Mark Cheeseman, Age Concern Wirral said:- “Planning in advance ensures people know their arrangements are settled and that their wishes are understood. Even personal choices such as selecting hymns for the service, preferred flowers, and the route for the cortege can be arranged.  Pre-planning can relieve the organisational burdens and stresses from family and loved ones when the time comes, as well as help avoid unnecessary financial distress during a particularly difficult time.”

Regional preferences for cremation and burial also vary. Cremation is preferred by people in the South East and Anglia (61%) closely followed by those in the North West (55%) and those living in Greater London (50%). 42% of people in the South West and Wales say they would prefer to be buried, compared with 31% in Scotland.

Age Concern Funeral Plan services recognise that while pre-planning your funeral may not be something people think about everyday, it does make good financial sense. With the latest figures showing average cremation funeral costing £2,217 and this figure predicted to rise to £3,350 by 2012, it is important for loved ones to know they are arranging the send off that their nearest and dearest would have wanted.  The Age Concern Funeral Plan is designed to appeal to all with no age restrictions, no medicals required and guaranteed acceptance. There are 3 Funeral Plan packages available offering a choice of arrangements and individual requests. Age Concern’s Funeral Plan provides flexible plans and payment methods to suit different requirements and is provided in collaboration with Dignity Caring Funeral Services.

Since Age Concern launched Funeral Plans a decade ago, it has sold over 120,000 plans.

To find out more about Age Concern Funeral Plans, call 0800 731 0651 or contact Age Concern Wirral, Unit 2, 142 Claughton Road, Birkenhead, CH41 6EY.   Telephone:- 0151 649 1760.

Missed opportunity for personal finance in schools

GOVERNMENT has again missed an important opportunity to give personal finance the place it deserves in the national schools curriculum, according to the ifs School of Finance, an educational charity. 

The ifs School of Finance was responding to the announcement by the government and QCA on reforms to secondary education in England & Wales.  As part of the reform package,economic well beingis being hailed as a new subject to ensure young people gain basic skills in personal finance.  However, there is nothing new in the announcement, with most of the changes having been signalled earlier this year.

Gavin Shreeve, chief executive at the ifs School of Finance, said:- “We are disappointed that the announcement is no different to what Government previously committed to, i.e. adding "economic well being" to Personal Social Health Education (PSHE).  The study of PSHE will remain optional and non-examinable and the economic well being component will be just one small strand of a diverse subject.

As Ofsted confirmed, some secondary schools do not teach PSHE at all because they want to give more space to academic and accredited subjects. Of those that do teach it, few include any of the Personal Finance elements that are already supposed to be part of the subject. The plans therefore appear highly unlikely to change the financial behaviour of any young person.  In contrast, standalone qualifications in personal finance have been independently proven to make a positive difference to the way in which young people make financial decisions. This is why we are calling on Government to introduce a standalone subject in Personal Finance so that all students have the opportunity to gain what is an increasingly crucial life skill.”

The ifs School of Finance is far from alone in believing schools should be compelled to offer their students the opportunity to gain these skills through statutory provision. Some 69% of secondary schools in England & Wales believe financial education should be made statutory (FSA UK Benchmark Study, June 2006) and earlier this year both the Building Societies Association and British Bankers Association called on Government to make financial education a compulsory part of the curriculum.  In addition, almost 90 MPs have now signed EDM 291 calling on the Government to ensure all schools offer a standalone qualification in personal finance.

Earlier this month FSA chief executive John Tiner said that Ed Balls should, “…ask his new colleagues to find room for financial education on the mandatory core curriculum at the earliest opportunity.”

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