Burial charges rise by 27 per cent in three years, finds Citizens Advice Scotland

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 13 December 2017 in News

Citizens Advice Scotland report shows the average burial charge has reached £1,428 - up by 5.5 per cent in the last year

Image credit: PA

Burial charges have risen by 27 per cent in the last three years, according to a new report by Citizens Advice Scotland.

The report, Cost of Saying Goodbye 2017, shows the average burial charge has reached £1,428 – up by 5.5 per cent in the last year.

CAS said that since 2012/2013 it had seen an increasing number of clients seeking advice related to funerals, with over 500 clients approaching the organisation with requests relating to funeral poverty last year.

The report shows that the average cost of a funeral in Scotland in 2017 was £3,598.

CAS warned that the rise in funeral poverty stems from funeral director charges, local authority charges and “an increasing gap between the available social security benefit and the cost of a funeral”.

The biggest increase in burial charges was in East Renfrewshire, where fees rose by 49 per cent in 2016, from £965 to £1,440. Excluding East Renfrewshire, burial charges across Scotland increased by an average of 4.1 per cent compared to 2016 levels.

There was a £1,635 difference in price between the burial charges in the most and least expensive local authorities in 2017, with Edinburgh City Council charging £2,340 and the Western Isles charging £705.

CAS consumer spokesperson Ruth Mendel said: “This year we again see an increase in burial costs across most areas, though it is notable that a quarter of Scottish councils froze their charges from last year.

“What is striking is that the average charge has increased by 27 per cent since 2014, which is 3.5 times the rate of inflation. That is a substantial increase at a time when many families will have seen their incomes fall.

“Our data also shows that there remains a postcode lottery in burial costs in Scotland, with some councils charging significantly higher fees than others just a few miles away.

“Bereavement is a difficult time for any family, and the financial side of planning and paying for a funeral or cremation can of course compound the emotional difficulties, particularly for those who are on lower incomes or where the bereavement is unexpected.

“In publishing this data we hope to sensitively encourage people to think ahead and plan for funeral and cremation fees. And while we understand the financial pressures that local authorities face, we urge them to consider the impact that high burial charges can have on people at what can be one of the most difficult times in their lives.”   

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