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Burial costs rise again in Scotland, and postcode lottery still as stark as ever

24 Jun 2015

Families across Scotland are still struggling to afford a decent farewell for their loved ones, according to a new report published by Citizens Advice Scotland.

The new report, The Cost of Saying Goodbye, details the rising cost of burials and cremations in all of Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities. It finds that:

  • The basic cost of burial fees in Scotland (i.e. not including undertakers fees, flowers etc) is now on average £1,273. That’s a 10% increase since last year. This cost has increased in all but two of the 32 Councils.
  • There is still a postcode lottery in these charges, with the costs varying by over £2,000 between the most expensive and least expensive Councils.
  • The most expensive remains East Dunbartonshire, and the least expensive is still the Western Isles.  The highest increased charge since last year is Aberdeenshire (42%).
  • Meanwhile the cost of cremations is on average £601. That’s an increase of 5% since last year.
  • Last year the number of Scots coming to a CAB because of problems with funeral costs rose by 27% from the previous year. This year the number has risen again by 35%.

Publishing the report, CAS spokesman Fraser Sutherland says,

“When someone dies you have to pay not just the funeral directors, florists etc, but you also have to pay your Local Authority for the costs of the internment and the lair (grave). Last year we contacted all 32 Councils in Scotland to find out these charges, and we found not just that these fees were very expensive, but also huge disparities between the most expensive and the cheapest Councils.

“This year we have conducted the same exercise of contacting all 32 Councils, and we publish the figures today – one year on from last the last report. What we have found is that there has been an average 10% rise in burial costs since last year, and also that the same postcode lottery still exists. For example the burial costs in East Dunbartonshire are £1,900 higher than in East Renfrewshire, which is just a few miles away. The variation between the most expensive Council (East Dunbartonshire) and the cheapest (Western Isles) is £2,091.

“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% 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, florists etc. 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.”

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