Wednesday, January 23, 2013
AN undertaker attacked Fenland District Council’s plan to increase burial fees by almost 30 per cent as “taxing the dead.”
It means that a burial plot now costing £440 will, after April 1, cost £575- but the charges for recent arrivals in Fenland will be even higher. Non residents currently pay £660 but that is to rise to £1,150.
Fenland Council also plan a new charge of £60 per visit to be accompanied by a member of staff to choose a plot.
Mark Turner, a senior partner of Turner and Sons of March, said: “This is a tax against the bereaved and people who have no option but to pay these fees in order to have their loved ones interred in Fenland.”
Mr Turner added: “They are taxing the bereaved and taxing the dead; I could not increase my fees by 30 per cent, or I would go out of business.
“I am amazed the council can think about increasing its fees by that much.
“There are already people struggling to pay council fees for funerals, and this is going to make it a bigger problem.”
Mark Saunders, the council’s chief accountant, will tell the overview and scrutiny committee on Monday that current fees are well below those of neighbouring councils.
His report says that the proposed increases will cover will cover the costs of managing the five Fenland cemeteries. By simplifying charges the council can better market the cemeteries to customers, he says.
The council is looking to cut its expenditure by £1.3m over the next two years, because its government grant is expected to be cut by £324,000 next year and by a further £1.042, in 2014/15,
Mr Saunders said: “Fenland’s fees are 18 per cent less than the cheapest near neighbours and 42 per cent for non-residents.
“As a step towards bringing the fees in line with near neighbours, and given that the cemeteries service operates at an annual cost to the council, it is proposed to increase fees in excess of inflation in 2013/14 and future years until fees are comparable.”
Current fees for an interment in Fenland are £440 for residents and £660 for non-residents, while King’s Lynn and West Norfolk charges £760 for a resident and £1,520 for a non-resident.
New fees would mean a charge of £575 for an interment next year, and another £575 for a burial plot.
The charges for burials at weekends and bank holidays will be set at 50 per cent more than the standard resident’s fee. Premium burial plots will have a fee set at twice the standard fee.
And should you need a body exhumed that charge is going up too- from £855 to £1,500 from April 1.