Rising burial costs make Capital '˜most expensive place to die'

ROCKETING burial costs have made the Capital Scotland's most expensive place to die, with bereaved families having to shell out more than £2000 to say goodbye to their loved ones.

Wednesday, 13th December 2017, 7:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th December 2017, 8:03 am
Picture: Jon Savage

Research by Citizens’ Advice Scotland (CAS) revealed relatives across the country have experienced a 27 per cent hike in burial charges since 2014, while cremation costs have also risen in that time.

The median charge for a basic burial in the Capital over the last year rose to £2340, a rise of nearly four per cent and almost £1000 more than the Scottish average.

Fees for cremations carried out by the local authority also increased, jumping up by £27 on the 2016 figures to £735, according to the Cost of Saying Goodbye 2017 report .

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However, private crematoriums, including those at Seafield and Warriston, were found to be more than £40 cheaper than City of Edinburgh Council’s own service.

The report stated the average burial cost across Scotland rose by more than £250 to £1427, an increase of more than five per cent, while cremations saw a smaller rise of three per cent to £743.

The council’s transport and environment convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “Edinburgh provides a more comprehensive burial service than most other local authorities, relying less on funeral directors and supplying more staff to assist with the burial process.

“In addition, Edinburgh has many historic cemeteries and burial grounds for which the upkeep is funded partly by the sale of new burial plots.

“Income helps with the maintenance of walls, buildings, footpaths and grass-cutting for the benefit of those that visit graves.”

She continued: “It should also be noted that, while the cost of burials in Edinburgh has increased by 11 per cent over the last three years, this is significantly lower than the national average increase of 
27 per cent.”

Meanwhile, families in Midlothian experienced a 14 per cent hike for the second year in a row as burial costs in the region topped £1300.

In East Lothian, burial fees were £1328 while in West Lothian, they were £1089.

Additional expenses such as venue hire, flowers or funeral director fees – which could add thousands of pounds to the final funeral bill – were not included in the report.

John Williamson, head of operations for Co-op funeralcare in Scotland, said: “There are a range of factors contributing to rising burial costs, these include the increasing cost of land, and budget pressures faced by local authorities, who in the vast majority of cases are those who set the fees.

“There’s certainly a growing trend for families opting to cremate, and this is likely to some extent to be driven by the widening gap in costs.”

Research by insurance provider Royal London earlier this year found the average cost of a funeral in Scotland now stands at £3598.

CAS consumer spokesperson Ruth Mendel said: “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.”