The National Association of Funeral Directors is extremely concerned to hear of the ‘One Stop Funeral Service’ proposed by North East Lincolnshire Council which would see the council set itself up, effectively, as a funeral director.

Whilst we have every sympathy for local authorities who need to make up shortfalls in their budget, this should not be achieved by setting themselves up in direct competition with local businesses, many of which are small family-owned firms. All funeral firms in the local area have to pay significant business rates to the council in order to operate, which the council of course will not, giving the council something of an unfair advantage – which we consider to be anti-competitive.

This also has a financial impact on local people too, as they are funding council activities like this through their council tax, at a time when bereaved families in the borough are already facing an above-inflation 14% rise in the council’s burial charges, and a £159 penalty charge if a cremation overruns by just five minutes.

In fact, in less than three years North East Lincolnshire Council’s cremation costs have risen by 82%, there has also been a 61% increase in burial charges and a 140% increase in the cost of a grave. It begs the question as to whether the council sees bereaved families – and the funeral directors who serve them – as easy targets when it comes to raising revenue?