Families wishing to buy the ashes of dead relatives will have to pay more this year

Cremation and burial costs rise in Cardiff

Council plans for increases in cost of burials, cremations and purchasing remains described as “heartless” by Lib Dems

PLANS to increase the cost of Cardiff burials and cremations have been approved, despite being described as “heartless and insensitive” by opposition politicians.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Rodney Berman said the price hikes were “nothing short of heartless,” after introducing an amendment to reduce the proposed fees in Thursday’s council meeting.

But the council’s cabinet claimed the increases were part of an existing three-year-plan to bring funeral costs closer in line with other major cities and stressed that all money raised is being reinvested in cremation and burial services.

The council also said that it offers affordable funeral options to all Cardiff residents who need them.

Families will now have to pay £430 for a relative’s ashes – an increase of 16.2% or £60 on last year. When cremation charges are added, the final cost rises by £100 to £1,170.

The cost of grave purchases will also rise by almost 8% or £70 to £970.

““The administration’s insistence on pressing ahead with large increases in bereavement and registration fees at this time is deeply insensitive and, indeed, nothing short of heartless.”

Coun Berman

Coun Berman said: “We have sought to reduce the burden on those who have sadly faced a family loss – something that should be on all of our minds with so many excess deaths in the last year directly due to Covid.

“The administration’s insistence on pressing ahead with large increases in bereavement and registration fees at this time is deeply insensitive and, indeed, nothing short of heartless.”

Bereavement costs at a glance

  • 16.2% rise in cremated remains purchase, rising by £60 to £430
  • 5.71% increase in cremation, rising by £40 to £740
  • 5.56% increase in burial charge, rising by £45 to £855
  • 7.8% increase to grave purchase, rising by £70 to £970
  • 9.4% increase in burial of cremated remains, rising by £30 to £350

Money raised from the fees will be used to improve existing facilities and build a new cemetery which is due to open later this year, the council has said.

In addition to this, revenue from excess deaths in April and May, when coronavirus fatalities spiked, meant the council underspent by £58,000 in last year’s budget.

Addressing the impact of the pandemic, the council has also pointed to the hard work and commitment of staff who have kept burial and cremations services running in the last year.

Leader of the Cardiff Lib Dems Rhys Taylor said the proposed increases were significantly above inflation, and that it would be “compassionate and dignified” to reduce the fees.

“Should you be making a profit out of misery when so many people have lost people and not been able to see their families?” said Coun Taylor.

“My aunty passed away with Covid in December and nobody was able to go and see her. Her husband was rushed into hospital on the same day.

“It’s very problematic and comes across as callous and you do have to question where the priority is when you know there was an underspend.”

The Lib Dem amendment was defeated in a vote on Thursday when the council approved this year’s budget.

What has the cabinet said?

Responding to concerns about the price hikes, Coun Michael Michael, Cabinet Member for Environment, Clean Streets and Recycling, said: “The proposed fee increases for 2021/22 are the final year of a previously agreed three-year plan to gradually bring Cardiff’s cemetery and crematorium fees closer in line with other large local authorities.

“If approved, fees in Cardiff will still remain below the local average, and significantly below average fees for other major UK cities such as Bristol, Birmingham and Liverpool. 

“The service has also invested significantly in improving its facilities. Its chapels have been extensively refurbished and works are also planned for later this year to upgrade and improve audio-visual facilities at the site. 

“A new cemetery covering North Cardiff has also been developed and will be ready to open later this year, ensuring that burial space can still be provided in the city over the longer term.

“Funding for both the Chapels and the new cemetery has been provided through a capital scheme which needs to be repaid over a number of years. All the monies raised by fees are reinvested in the service.

“We know that times of loss are always difficult for families and money worries can also play a part. This is why Cardiff Council was the first in the UK to offer a separate low-cost funeral service which offers any resident struggling to bear the financial cost of a bereavement, a dignified funeral, including the services of a professional funeral director, coffin, medical fees, cremation fee, viewing of the deceased and provision of a hearse and one limousine at a lower price. We also offer a more affordable direct to crematorium service.”

Have you struggled to pay funeral costs? Get in touch: Draper@cardiff.ac.uk.