Council praised for not hiking up cost of dying

Wigan Crematorium and Lower Ince Cemetery
Wigan Crematorium and Lower Ince Cemetery

Wigan Council funeral costs have not significantly risen amid criticism other local authorities are charging more to off-set the effects of budget cuts.

Research from funeral booking website Funeralbooker highlights many authorities increasing fees for cremation and burials in recent years.

But the borough’s services charges either rose two per cent or stayed the same last year, according to town hall budget papers. And officers say new schemes are in place to help families who struggle to meet the costs of bereavement services.

Funeralbooker ranks Wigan’s crematoria costs at between £600 and £649, with burials costing between £1,250 and £1,750.

Beckenham in Kent; Crawley and Chichester in West Sussex; Leatherhead in Surrey and Nuneaton in Warwickshire tie as the UK’s most expensive cremation towns with costs a staggering £956. As for the dearest burials, four cemeteries in Wandsworth, London, charge £4,561 apiece.

Bereavement services manager Andrew Bond said: “Wigan Council is proud to offer a cost-effective service for residents and hope our low costs help reduce the stress and financial burden families face during a difficult time.

“We review our fees and charges annually to make sure we are providing the best value for residents and continually strive to provide new offers for families dealing with bereavement.

“In 2011 Wigan Council provided a public cremation fee for residents struggling to cope with the cost of cremation and the Wigan and Leigh Residents Funeral Service negotiated by the council on behalf of residents offers an effective way of managing rising funeral costs.

“We are also working hard to increase choice for families to remember their loved ones within council facilities; striving to identify and implement new memorialisation options for all incomes across various cemeteries.”

Founder of Funeralbooker James Dunn said: “Cuts in council funding may mean many councils are turning to crematoriums and cemeteries to balance the books. These price increases could be a hidden cost of austerity.”

Recent figures have also revealed the amount spent by the council on paupers’ funerals has more than doubled in four years. It spent more than three times as much on funerals for people who died penniless and alone in 2014/15 than in 2010/11.

And it paid for just eight community deaths in each year from 2010/11 to 2012/3 at a total cost of 21,815.27. But this rose to 13 in 2013/14, costing £14,734.26, and to 18 in 2014/15 at a cost of £21,472.88.