There has been a 55% rise in the number of public health funerals in Wales, according to figures obtained by ITV News.

Public health funerals, also known as ‘paupers' funerals’, are paid for by local authorities when a person cannot afford the funeral themselves, or when they die without relatives able to cover the costs.

Across the UK, the average cost of a funeral has risen by 112% in the past 13 years. In Wales, the average price now stands at £3535, according to The Royal London National Funeral Cost Index.

The crowdfunding website GoFundMe says growing numbers of friends and relatives are turning to online fundraising to cover the costs.

Helen Hughes, from Cardiff, lost her husband of 21 years in December after he suffered a heart attack. He had no life insurance and Helen says despite choosing the cheapest funeral available, it has left her in considerable debt.

“It’s like being on an out of control rollercoaster that you can’t get off of”, said Helen. “I’ve been depressed since [he] died, but it’s just making things snowball, it’s worse and worse and worse”.

Helen Hughes lost her husband unexpectedly in December Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Helen created an online crowdfunding page, and says she has received some financial help from family members, as well as a lump sum from the UK Government’s Funeral Payment scheme. But despite this support, she is still struggling to pay off the balance.

“You never think it’s going to happen so soon, because he was relatively young, and you don’t think of these things”, said Helen, a mother of three. “There’s so many people in the same boat... it’s shocking. In this day and age, it should never, ever be happening”.

The Fair Funerals campaign says a variety of factors influence funeral prices, including burial plot shortages and an understandable reluctance to “shop around” following a bereavement. The campaign also says rising costs have coincided with “diminishing” financial support from the UK Government for those in need of help with the costs.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We understand that bereavement is an incredibly difficult time for people. Funeral Expenses Payments provide an important contribution towards funeral costs and are available to people on means tested benefits; the average award is over £1,400.”