A funeral director in Galloway has accused the council of “penalising the bereaved” after a £350 increase in interment costs comes into force on April 1.
Due to a £349.06 shortfall between the average cost for the local authority for burial - £1,289.06 - and the current charge for the service - £940 - interment will go up to £857.
Gordon Leckie, from Alex McCleary, Funeral Directors, Newton Stewart, said: “If you go back to 2005, the interment fee was £507 and its gone up every year by a marginal amount. Last year it went up by £8, but now it has jumped up £350!
“I would hope people will complain to Dumfries and Galloway Council. This is not the funeral directors’ doing. The council are penalising people for a bereavement.”
The charge for casket burial (for ashes) is also going up £86 to £210 and for non residents of Dumfries and Galloway, casket burial will go up to £316.
Mr Leckie continued: “They are lumping up the costs but they are restricting the hours we can have an interment in. We are not allowed a burial after 2pm Monday to Friday and not after 11am on a Saturday. Saturday burials also have a 50 per cent surcharge. There is a 100 per cent surcharge for a Sunday burial, so we often advise families against that day because of the extra cost. We also have to leave two hours between each burial, even if the graves are in the same churchyard.”
A spokesperson for Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “The previous charge for an interment did not actually cover the costs incurred by our Council and was well below most other councils. The Community and Customer Services Committee (15 December 2015) agreed that the charge should be based on the actual cost of the service to ensure that taxpayers were not out of pocket, which most people would regard as fair and reasonable.
“Research shows that the average cost of a burial, including undertaker costs, is around £5,000. This means that the charge made for an internment by the council is 20 per cent of the total cost and the vast majority of the charges are those imposed by undertakers.
“Protecting our most vulnerable people is a priority for our Council. Where a family is experiencing significant financial hardship, the Council has procedures in place to assist with a burial.”
In the December report to the council’s community and customer services committee, officers stated that the council’s burial grounds are, in some cases, under space pressure, resulting in the need for further capital investment and resultant additional revenue costs over time.
In 2015, 14 Councils in Scotland increased their burial charges. The amount of increase varied across the 14 with the highest increase from Stirling Council at £849 per burial and the lowest from Dumfries and Galloway Council at £33 per burial.