Burial charges again illustrate how council charges are being used to plug the Council Tax freeze and cuts in local government funding.
A Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) report published today said the number of people asking for help with funeral costs had risen by 35% from 2014. This updates a previous UNISON Scotland report on charges that highlighted burial costs.
The report said that the basic cost of funerals had risen in all but two local authorities, and on average has increased by 10% from 2014. On average, a burial in Scotland now costs £1,273.
Council funeral charges have been rising by an average of 7% since 2004.
They also highlight 'Huge disparities' between councils. Moray and South Lanarkshire have not seen any rise in their prices at all, while Aberdeenshire has increased the cost of a burial by 42% since 2014. That translates to a £420 rise on the cost to families planning a funeral.
The 'postcode lottery' argument is less convincing as it can be down to a variety of local factors. Some cost driven and others due to legitimate political choices. One person's postcode lottery is another's local democracy. We should also remember that burial is only one factor in rising funeral costs.
However, the main point is valid. Burial costs are simply another example of increasing charges to plug council finances. Charges are almost always regressive, with little reference to ability to pay.