the cost of dying in Kirklees is set to soar over the next five years.
The Cabinet is to consider a report tomorrow (Tues) setting out proposed charges over a five year period starting from November 1.
Batley East Labour councillor Clr Fazila Fadia said if implemented the cost of dying would increase by “almost 75%” over the next five years with Bereavement Services putting up fees and adding new charges for Fridays and weekends. But funeral charges for under 18s would be scrapped.
Clr Fadia said: “More information needs to be provided. For example it’s good that charges for under-18s are to be scrapped but we don’t have any figures for how many people that involves so we can’t compare it against anything.”
The report says the service provides approximately 500 burials, approximately 120 interments (burials) of cremated remains (ashes), and approximately 3,000 cremations each year.
Charges vary but to give just one example the current cost of buying burial rights for one internment on a 50-year lease with earthen grave and burial chamber will rise from £989 to £1,798, in Year 5, 2021/22.
And in December last year the Examiner reported that the cash-strapped council will have to find £1.5m to pay for a replacement furnace at Huddersfield Crematorium at Fixby.
The report to Cabinet says: “Over recent years, private crematorium and cemetery operators have entered the market, modernising the delivery of what have been very traditional services, and changing customer perceptions and demands of a modern bereavement service.”
Competition from fellow public sector providers is increasing too, says the report, with “Bradford Council’s multi-million pound investment in a state-of-the art crematorium, expected to be commissioned in summer 2018. We expect this development may affect the number of cremations taking place in Kirklees.
“But ‘funeral poverty’ is also a key factor in a move towards more DIY (do-it-yourself) funerals, given the total cost of a funeral once the services of a funeral director are included.
It is also proposed that “where there is excess demand” for a specific time slot, a premium will be applied. Friday afternoon burials will initially attract a premium of £99.
The proposals have angered the Muslim community, given that Muslims deem it a religious duty to bury the deceased promptly.
In a statement on Facebook the Muslim Burial Council North Kirklees branded the proposed increases “completely unfair and outrageous” with Clr Fadia saying the Muslim community felt they were being “targeted.”
The burial council said they were only given a week to make their views known which was not enough time. They want Cabinet to call for a full review.
A Kirklees Council spokesperson said: “Cabinet members will accept the report on charges for bereavement services at their meeting tomorrow, but will ask for a period of further engagement with all affected groups before making a final decision.”