The rise in ‘pauper funerals’: Agony for bereaved as cost of cremations soars despite Covid crisis after two thirds of councils hike prices by up to 16% making average ceremony now £775
The costs of laying your loved ones to rest have shot up during the Coronavirus pandemic – despite providers offering ‘pauper’s funerals’ in lockdown.
Although a limited amount of family and friends being allowed to the ceremonies, two thirds of councils have raised their prices to 16%.
The rise of Covid-19 has meant smaller numbers of mourners can now attend funerals in order to maintain social distancing.
But the average cost of a local authority cremation in the UK is £775, up from £752 last financial year. Ten years ago, the average funeral cost £470.
Rules on funerals during the pandemic state social distancing has to be maintained
Some councils have reacted by slashing costs, while a quarter of them have simply frozen their prices.
One widower told the BBC a lockdown service for his wife was like a ‘pauper’s funeral’.
Neville Wilson’s said only five mourners could attend wife Doreen’s send-off after she died of lung cancer in March.
He said the funeral procession was a hearse only, without any floral tributes with her family having to take their own cars to attend the ceremony.
Coventry City Council, who ran the service, cut it from 45 minutes to 15 minutes but still charged the same price.
Machine engineer Mr Wilson, 66, said: ‘It felt unbelievably bad.
Crematoriums has risen to £775, up from £752 last year, despite restricted services in place
Churches have no reopened for funerals, but guidance means huge numbers are not allowed to attend to pay their respects to the decceased
‘It felt like a pauper’s funeral. It couldn’t get any worse if we’d tried.
‘I then started some investigation myself as to which councils were and which councils weren’t freezing costs and I thought if some councils are doing it, why aren’t Coventry council doing it?’
Local authorities have defended price rises, pointing out they were agreed before the pandemic, which has also made putting them on more expensive.
Andrew Walster, from Coventry City Council, said service times had to be cut to introduce deep cleaning between service.
He said: ‘Unfortunately, that didn’t reduce our costs of providing that service to the public, in fact it increased it, by providing those additional facilities for bereaved families,’ he said.
‘We haven’t passed on those additional costs.’
Down to Earth, an organisation set up to end ‘funeral poverty’, slammed the price hikes.
Chief executive Lindesay Mace said: ‘What we’re seeing here are increases in cremation fees in the last year of as much as six, seven and even 10% in some places.
‘Those kind of price rises are clearly beyond the means of the average person, especially when you bear in mind that incomes haven’t risen by nearly as much.’
Chief executive officer of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, Julie Dunk, said councils had to invest in environmentally friendly equipment.
But widower Mr Wilson said prices were heaping more anguish onto struggling families,
He added: ‘My two sons are still extremely angry. And also so are my wife’s family, they’re very upset that they couldn’t attend. I really wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,’ he said.
‘Horrendous is the word.’