Town's crematorium slammed over 'dramatic' price hikes
PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 September 2014 | UPDATED: 09:50 24 September 2014
WESTON'S crematorium is hiking its prices for the sixth time since it transferred to a private company just four years ago - making it the most expensive in the region, and even pricier than London.
The latest rise - up to £815 for a standard cremation and use of its chapel, compared to £440 when the facility was operated by the council in 2010 - comes into effect today (Thursday) and has been accused of forcing mourners to ‘make a choice’ between paying steep fees or holding services outside of Weston.
Manager of Howard Goodman Funeral Home, in the Boulevard in Weston, Gavin Burnett said the latest rise, up from £760, is putting people ‘under pressure’ when it comes to a cost they ‘can’t avoid’.
Mr Burnett said: “It’s a dramatic change, and the charge will be passed on directly to our customers.
“It’s very tough for people, many don’t have much money and funerals are costly.
“At the moment those in need can make a claim from the Department of Work and Pensions, but that claim is capped at a certain amount, making it very tough for people when prices continue to rise.”
The current amount you can claim to help cover costs is £700, which isn’t enough to cover even Weston crematorium’s basic charge.
The Ebdon Road crematorium was previously the responsibility of North Somerset Council, but was taken over by private firm Dignity Funerals in a £3million deal in April 2010. At the time, fears were voiced that the change would result in substantial price hikes.
Mr Burnett said: “It’s a dramatic rise, especially when it’s compared with other places in the region.”
South Bristol and Canford crematoriums both charge £682, and Taunton charges £608.
Mr Burnett said: “Even London funerals are cheaper, with the City of London charging £644.
“It’s really putting people under pressure with wages and the cost of living squeeze, it’s a cost that people can’t afford, but can’t avoid.”
His view was supported by Mark Mason, from Masons Funeral Directors, in Drove Road in Weston, who said they may be forced out of town for funeral services.
He said: “It is the most expensive in the area so people will have to make a choice.
“People will have to choose whether they want to pay the prices in Weston or go further afield, to Sedgemoor or Bristol where it’s cheaper.”
A spokesperson for Dignity, which runs the crematorium, said: “The substantial investment we have made in improving the crematorium building, chapel and grounds has resulted in it being one of the most pleasant to visit in the UK.
“The increase in the crematorium fee is an annual increase and we guarantee there will not be another price rise for at least the next 12 months.”