East Ayrshire Council seeks to reduce funeral costs

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An "affordable funeral package" has been launched by East Ayrshire Council in a bid to tackle funeral poverty.

It said it had worked with three local funeral directors to create a package with savings ranging from 28% to 41% on the national average.

The average cost for funeral director services is £2,772, according to Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

Since 2012, it has seen an 83% rise in people going to citizens advice bureaux after struggling with funeral costs.

CAS said costs of burials rose by 7% between 2016 and 2015, while cremation costs increased by 11%.

East Ayrshire council leader Douglas Reid said funeral poverty was a genuine problem.

"It is something we need to address and it is important that we talk openly about the cost of funerals," he said.

"People need to know that there are options out there, that they can say goodbye to a loved one in a dignified way without paying large sums of money, money that many people just don't have."

From 1 April, all East Ayrshire residents will be entitled to use the funeral package, which will range in price from £1,680 to £2,000.

Based on these costs, people would save between £350 and £700 depending which funeral director they chose to use, the council said.

The "Respectful Funeral Service" package is to include:

  • collection of the deceased from within East Ayrshire or any NHS Ayrshire and Arran property (mainland)
  • care and preparation of the deceased
  • a choice of coffin ranging from light oak, dark wood or environmental
  • a place of rest and viewing facilities
  • a hearse and one family car
  • arrangements on the day of the funeral

A review of funeral poverty was commissioned by the Scottish government in 2015, and the Birrell -Citizens Advice Scotland report was published.

The report contained a number of recommendations to tackle funeral poverty.

These included local authorities seeking ways to reduce or limit charges.

Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said: "We are keen to encourage innovative work to address funeral poverty, and I will be interested to see how this scheme operates in practice."

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