Church concerned at evidence of rising funeral costs

The Church of Scotland has released figures which highlight the rising costs of funerals across the country. In some areas charges have increased by almost 300% in the past five years.

The average increase for both interment and cremation across the country was found to be 62% from five years ago, with a 36% increase in the past three years.

The largest increase in cost for the purchase of a lair, cremation and interment in the last five years was in South Lanarkshire.

Convener of the Church and Society Council, Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, said: “These significant rises in cost have the potential to put a huge strain on people at a time when they are already dealing with the loss of a loved one.

“At a time when welfare reforms are causing many more families to struggle financially, we are also concerned that those who can least afford it will suffer most and pressure to ‘do right by their loved one’ could put them in debt.”

A Funeral Director in Carstairs Village, Ian Brown, said: “In the last four years, funeral costs have trebled. This puts financial strain on families who are also having to deal with losing a loved one.

"It is good to see the Church of Scotland taking a stand on this issue as their influence can make an impact.”

Depute Presbytery Clerk of the Presbytery of Lanark, Rev Bryan Kerr, said: “As a parish minister, I continue to be concerned about the high charges levied at families in times of bereavement.

“In our area, costs have trebled in the last five years – three times the Scottish average. I remain to be convinced that local authorities are not making a profit out of people dying.”

The Church compiled the figures following last year’s General Assembly when ministers raised concern over the spiralling cost of funerals.

The Church has met with representatives of the National Association of Funeral Directors to look at the issues raised and to explore ways to support bereaved families.

By drawing attention to the issue of funeral poverty, the Church hopes to be part of strategic, joined-up thinking that leads to solutions that alleviate added strain on grieving families.