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The cost of dying is set to rise even faster than the cost of living in Southend, with the price of a grave set to go up to £1,200 – a 30 per cent increase.
Draft budget papers reveal, despite an overall rise in mortality during the pandemic, the council is considering raising revenue from burial and cremation services. These include raising the cost of a grave by £280 from the current price of £920.
The cost of a memorial service and cremation will rise from £840 to £915, scattering ashes in the memorial garden in Sutton Road cemetery will rise by seven per cent from £150 to £160 and for those who wish to do this on a Saturday will rise from £100 to £110.
The rises could hit families hard, particularly in the face of rising inflation.
Linette Richardson is a Basildon-based funeral celebrant. She said: “I can imagine this will have a huge impact. From my personal point of view I have a big family and we tend to pool our money for family funerals. A lot of people are going for simple funerals but even then it can be a struggle to pay.
“I think we will increasingly see families pulling together to help each other rather than seeing one person struggle to pay.”
Martin Terry, councillor responsible for public protection, said: “Southend has for many years offered some of the lowest fees and charges for numerous services carried out at the cemetery and crematorium, including burials and cremations.
“However, with increased financial pressures on the council due to huge reductions in Government grants, increases in utility costs to operate our cremators and the reduced availability of burial plots we have reviewed the charges associated with these services and proposed some increases.”
Cllr Terry added: “Whilst we never like to increase charges for our residents, we have taken a balanced approach which has included benchmarking data from competitors, whilst ensuring that the needs of families are met during the difficult time of a bereavement.”
Southend crematorium is also set for £2.7million of investment, include replacement of the three existing cremators.