Appeal to help poor with burials

A Liverpool lawyer is fighting to establish the right of the Jewish community to recover the cost of burying poor Jews.

Robin Makin, of E Rex Makin and Co, has launched an appeal to be heard by the Social Security Commission at the end of the month against the State’s refusal to pay for a Jewish funeral in Liverpool.

But the case could have wider implications. The United Synagogue said it performs around 50 “charity” funerals a year in London which cost it in excess of £100,000.

The case taken up by Mr Makin concerns a Jewish man who died aged 70 in Liverpool in December 2005. He was divorced, estranged from his family and there were no close relatives who would accept responsibility for the cost of his funeral.

He was buried by Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation at a cost of £3,165 but the Department for Work and Pensions refused to foot the bill out of its social fund. The man’s own estate was found to be insolvent.

Mr Makin told the JC: “For Jews, having a lawful and decent Jewish funeral is terribly important. It seems completely unsatisfactory that the state is not prepared to accommodate this sort of situation.”

He is also contesting the Legal Services Commission’s decision not to grant him legal aid to fund the appeal, arguing that it has failed to recognise it as involving an issue of human rights.

    Last updated: 11:30am, April 3 2008