Low income families hit by high cost of dying

Tackling rising cost of funerals important to help bereaved loved ones.
Tackling rising cost of funerals important to help bereaved loved ones.

Local families coping with bereavement are facing rising funeral costs, according to a report flagged up by Grangemouth and Bo’ness Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

But charges in West Lothian are said to be fully £1,200 cheaper than in neighbouring Edinburgh.

The report reveals that the basic cost of burial fees in Scotland – not including undertakers’ fees – is now on average £1,363, a seven per cent increase since last year.

The rise has seen the number of people going to CAB seeking help almost double in four years, creating what CAB says is a major problem that needs urgent action.

Costs have increased in all but three council areas, and the dearest of all is Edinburgh.

Meanwhile the charge for local authority cremations is on average £670: an increase of 11 per cent since last year, with costs varying by more than £1.500 between the most expensive and least expensive areas.

The new report, The Cost of Saying Goodbye 2016, details the rising prices of burials and cremations in all of Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities.

Citizens Advice Scotland spokesman Fraser Sutherland said: “When someone dies you have to pay your local authority for burial costs like the internment and the lair (grave), as well as other costs like funeral directors and flowers.

“For the last three years we have contacted all 32 councils in Scotland to find out the prices they charge for these services.

“Since last year we have seen an overall eight per cent rise in burial costs, and that there are still huge disparities between the prices set by different councils.

“For example the burial costs in Edinburgh are £1,200 higher than in West Lothian, a neighbouring local authority, and the cost difference between the most expensive location, Edinburgh, and the cheapest location, Western Isles, is £1,552.”

He added: “Costs levied by local authorities can increase for a number of reasons, some have made substantial investment in new crematoria or graveyards while others have looked to reduce current subsidies as a result of tighter budgets.”

“We have found that cremations are a much less expensive form of saying goodbye, with an average charge of £670.

“However, even this is 11 per cent higher than the charges last year. The additional burden of costs such as funeral directors’ expenses, a wake and flowers make this a significant expense for many low income families, especially if the bereavement is sudden.

“Since 2012, we have seen an 83 per cent rise in people coming to a CAB because they’re struggling with funeral costs”.

“We have been working with Scottish Government Ministers on their forthcoming Funeral Costs plan and will continue to work with other campaign groups to highlight these issues and campaign for change.”