BEREAVED relatives have told how they are still battling red tape to try to get their mum buried three weeks after she died.

Mother-of-two Linda Jefferies died on February 17 after losing her fight with the neurological degenerative illness, Huntington's Disease.

Since then, the 55-year-old's body has remained at St Neots funeral directors Cobbolds because her family were unable to raise £1,900 funeral costs and their applications for grants have either been rejected or caught up in bureaucracy.

On February 21, Mrs Jefferies's brother, Andrew Posnett, applied to the Department for Work and Pensions for a social fund grant of £1,300.

But the DWP told the family the application was not received until February 29 and would take 16 working days to process.

Because of the length of the delay, Cobbolds, which has waived fees and helped in the search for grants, has said that unless the money is found, it will have to pass the case to social services which would take responsibility for the body.

Daughter Chloe Jefferies, of Love's Farm, St Neots, told The Hunts Post: "Once we applied for the grant we booked the funeral for March 6. I assumed everything was OK, so I left it.

"When I didn't hear anything by March 2, I called the DWP. They said they had the application and a cheque would be going to Cobbolds either by 4.40pm that night or by the following Monday (March 5).

"Again we didn't hear anything, so I phoned them back on that Monday, and it was then they told me they received the forms on February 29 but wouldn't even look at the application before March 22 because they have to leave it 16 working days."

Chloe, 21, and brother Rikki, 26, had to cancel the funeral due to take place on March 6.

"Everyone who knew her said she was the nicest person they had ever met," Chloe said. "She's the one person in the world who doesn't deserve this, and we, her family, can't grieve until this is sorted."

Mrs Jefferies's sister-in-law, Shirley McEwan, added: "The way the DWP has behaved is disgusting. Linda suffered from a nasty degenerative disease and then she died, but we can't even begin to think about laying her to rest or start to grieve properly."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: ""We can only assess applications once a date for the funeral has been set."

A Cobbolds spokesman told The Hunts Post: "We have to operate within a timescale for the good of the family, but we are trying to do everything we can to help with the costs so they can lay their mother to rest."