Burial charges a grave concern

Scots are struggling to pay the growing costs of burying their loves ones – with East Dunbartonshire named the most expensive place to die.

The new figures were revealed by Citizens Advice Scotland, which said funeral costs have risen seven per cent year on year since 2004, with a simple ceremony now £3,240. They say coupled with cuts to emergency assistance and household incomes, some families are unable to bury their deceased at all, and costs are a ‘postcode lottery’.

CAS head of policy Susan McPhee said: “People who have never organised a funeral are often shocked at how expensive it is. There are charges for the grave site as well as fees to the undertakers, the cost of the coffin etc.

“So it’s even worse to discover that some people are being charged significantly more in burial costs than those in other areas – even just a few miles away. For example the most expensive council, East Dunbartonshire, charges £2,716 – almost four times as much as the lowest-charging council (Western Isles), and 280% more than nearby East Renfrewshire. This means there is only seven miles between the most expensive place to be buried on mainland Scotland and the cheapest.”

Director of neighbourhood services, Grace Irvine, said: “The council has had some very difficult decisions to make while facing increased budgetary pressures and while our charges have increased, we continue to subsidise them as far as possible. We realise that families may struggle with burial charges at a difficult time and we are sensitive to that.

“We have made arrangements with families to pay by instalments over a set period of time and we are always willing to talk. We urge anyone with concerns to get in touch.”

Susan MacPhee added: “These people are of course in real distress at having to face this awful situation. And our report reveals a real unfairness, which we think has to be addressed.”