Bereaved families struggling with rising funeral costs

Funeral-web

The cost of a basic funeral has risen 7% year on year over the past decade

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24th June 2014 by Paul Cardwell 3 Comments

More people than ever are struggling with the expense of burying their loved ones as the cost of a basic funeral in some areas of Scotland has rocketed to the same price as a second-hand family car.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said in the last year its bureaux and consumer helpline saw an increase of over a quarter of people seeking financial help.

People who have never organised a funeral are often shocked at how expensive it is

It is calling for the Scottish Government to consider moderating fees charged by local authorities for burial plots and internment or cremation costs.

CAS head of policy Susan McPhee said the average cost for a simple funeral today is £3,240 but said families face an unfair ‘postcode lottery’ with some councils charging 300% more in fees than those just a few miles away.

"People who have never organised a funeral are often shocked at how expensive it is,” she said.

“There are charges for the grave site as well as fees to the undertakers, the cost of the coffin etc.

"These high costs come at a time when many families are struggling just to feed their families and keep their homes, so a sudden bill of over £3,000 can be devastating.

“To make matters worse, the special assistance scheme that people have been able to claim in the past has been squeezed of resources, so that 50% of applications are now being turned down.”

CAS is particularly concerned some councils have increased their costs in recent years to cover shortfalls in overall budgets and has demanded any increase in charges reflect real changes in cost of providing the service.

The Scottish Government, it added, should consider stepping in to control charges made by local authorities and is also calling for the Social Fund funeral expenses payments, which hasn’t been increased for 10 years, to be reassessed by the Department for Work and Pensions to establish if they meet the actual costs involved in funerals.

According to McPhee, basic funeral costs, which as well as council fees include payments to a funeral director of around £1,900 and £140 for a minister or celebrant, have steadily risen in price over the last decade by around 7% year on year.

The most expensive local authority to bury someone is East Dunbartonshire which charges £2,716 for a plot and internment fee – almost four times as much as the lowest-charging council, the Western Isles.

24th June 2014 by Margaret Hindmarsh

I totally agree that local authorities have increased burial plot costs beyond inflation, however when SBC were considering a nearly 50% rise I was told that neighbours were charging more! I have therefore decided to have a final"heat"

24th June 2014 by Barbara Chalmers

We advocate making plans ahead of the inevitable (free to do on our website). Many of us would rather have something simple than see family burdened by unnecessary costs. We have lots of info on costs and options on the site - all free to browse.

27th June 2014 by Stuart MacQuarrie

This is a good report however Church of Scotland Ministers are not permitted by the Church to charge fees for conducting a funeral Service. I am fairly sure this is also the case in the Catholic Church and will also apply to most Christian churches