Burial fee hike leaving families struggling to pay

Migrants walk on the A16 highway as they try to access the Channel Tunnel on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

Migrants walk on the A16 highway as they try to access the Channel Tunnel on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

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Families across Scotland are struggling to meet the soaring cost of dying as fees for council burials rise.

The Scottish Government is being urged to intervene after a 10 per cent increase in the past year alone which has seen costs rise to up to £2,800 for a burial.

Families are having to find �1,273 on average to cover the basic costs for a burial. Picture: Editorial

Families are having to find �1,273 on average to cover the basic costs for a burial. Picture: Editorial

Citizens Advice Scotland said there has been a “massive increase” in the numbers of Scots seeking help because they are unable to meet the costs.

The basic cost of burial fees in Scotland is now on average £1,273, according to a new report entitled the Cost of Saying Goodbye. It details the rising cost of burials and cremations across Scotland.

This does not include the fees for undertakers and florists. The cost has increased in all but two of the 32 council areas.

Fraser Sutherland, of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “We have found again that cremations are a much less expensive form of saying goodbye, with an average charge of £601.

“However even this is 5 per cent higher than the charges last year and is a difficult amount for many families to find, especially if the bereavement is sudden.

“Whether you choose a funeral or a cremation, the additional fees of funeral directors and florists swell these basic costs considerably, but at least people can shop around and make choices about those services. The local authority charges are a major problem and need to be addressed urgently.

“We have seen a massive increase in the numbers of Scots coming to the CAB because they can’t afford to pay these huge costs. We have met with Scottish government ministers and will continue to work with other campaign groups to highlight these issues and campaign for change.”

The report finds there is still a postcode lottery in charges, with the costs varying by more than £2,000 between the most expensive and least expensive councils.

The most expensive remains East Dunbartonshire which costs £2,785, and the least expensive is still the Western Isles at £694.

Grace Irvine, director of Neighbourhood Services at East Dunbartonshire Council, said: “The council has had some very difficult decisions to make while facing increased budgetary pressures and while our charges have increased, we continue to subsidise them as far as possible. We realise that families may struggle with burial charges at a difficult time and we are sensitive to that.

“We have made arrangements with families to pay by instalments over a set period of time and we are always willing to talk. We urge anyone with concerns to get in touch.”

The highest increased charge since last year is Aberdeenshire (up 42 per cent).

The cost of cremations is on average £601, an increase since last year of 5 per cent.

Last year the number of Scots attending a CAB because of funeral costs rose by 27 per cent from the previous year. This year the number has risen again by 35 per cent.

A spokesman for local government body Cosla said: “The cost of burials and cremations are rightly a matter for individual councils to determine based on local circumstance. Yes, there can be a variation in cost in the same way that there is a variation in property costs or land costs in different parts of the country.

“Indeed I would suggest that all individual elements of a funeral will vary in different parts of Scotland.”

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