Residents in Leeds are facing higher bills for laying their loved ones to rest after a 4.5 per cent increase in burial charges took hold yesterday. (Oct 1)
The rise marks the second time in 12 months that Leeds City Council has increased costs, with the fees rising by six per cent last November.
Councillors and ‘friends’ groups have criticised the latest price hike, which takes the cost of a standard burial in Leeds from £1,848 to £1,931.
The new charges will generate an additional £220,000, which the council says will be used to meet the increased costs of running the service.
The increase was proposed in line with inflation earlier this year, while the six per cent increase last November was instigated to address a budget shortfall and to deal with other issues, such as the installation of security measures.
Coun Barry Anderson, shadow executive board member for environmental services, said: “I have to question the ruling administration returning time and again to increase charges for this sensitive service.
“I accept inflationary costs are an issue and additional security measures have been needed, but surely the council can look at alternatives to passing on these costs to families year after year – it is not their fault that graves have been vandalised and disrupted.”
Dawn Horkan, who founded the Friends of Hunslet Cemetery group in 2009, said: “It’s a joke. If the council are going to introduce a price increase, they should install CCTV. They can’t justify the increase without any form of security.
“People pay because they want a grave to look nice and respect the memory of their loved one – but if you’re paying that amount, you’re paying for them to be safe.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Over the last two years, the council has had to find ways of meeting funding shortfalls and make cuts totalling £90m and £55.4m respectively.
“Despite these savings, burial and cremation services are subsidised by the council and even with increased charges, continue to be subsidised.
“As well as the running costs, we’ve committed significant capital funding to create a new cemetery at Whinmoor and are making improvements at Lawnswood Crematorium.”