The Cost of a Burial in Cornwall

The cost of a burial is a subject no one likes to talk about, but no matter how uncomfortable the subject is, it still needs to be discussed. Like many services Cornwall Council inherited from the previous District Council, the cost of a burial varied from district to district.  A new policy was meant to be introduced in April. However, it was met with such outcry and to his credit, the Portfolio Holder pulled it to re-look at the concerns which were raised.

This rethink has now taken place after talking to Cornwall’s 112 funeral directors and memorial masons asking for their views on the fees. Also consulted were funeral directors, and two representatives from the industry were invited to a meeting of the Bereavement Services Advisory Group to share their concerns.

Out of these consultations and meetings, the policy has been amended. Of course, with any harmonisation some areas will see a rise in the cost of a funeral. It has often been said that a one-size-fits-all attitude does not work. However, on this subject, I believe it is right course of action. As it should not matter were you live in Cornwall, you should pay the same price if you live in Bude, or Penzance.

These are the costs post the implementation of this policy.

  • The purchase cost of the Exclusive Right of Burial (ERB) fee will be £500 (reduced from £750).
  • The ERB period will be 50 years (an increase from the originally proposed 30 years). At the end of the 50 years, the ERB can be extended in ten-year terms up to a maximum of 100 years. The fee for this will be a fifth of the ERB fee charged at the time.
  • The purchase cost of the ERB for a traditional grave will be the same as for a Lawn grave (£500 instead of £900).
  • Children’s funerals will be free up to and including 16 years of age. Where an adult size grave was required for a child’s burial either because of the size or the child or because subsequently the family wanted to bury an adult in the grave there will still be no charge. Subsequent adult burials would be charged at the appropriate full adult fee.
  • The increased fee for the hand digging of traditional graves will only be charged when it proves impossible for the grave to be dug by machinery. This will inevitably occur once the majority of a traditional area is already buried in when re-opening of graves are necessary as machinery cannot be used when surrounding graves have kerbs installed.
  • Following consultation with the contractors a reduction in the digging fee for cremation plots was obtained and this fee was reduced from £350 to £250.

The Portfolio Holder, Steve Double said in a briefing to Councillors

I hope Members will understand that we need to reflect the cost of the service, which includes digging and maintaining the plot. Given these figures, it is not fair that people living in some areas of Cornwall pay more than double that of others.  Unfortunately this is a legacy from the pre unitary authority days – in 2009 Cornwall Council inherited four very different sets of fees, depending on the subsidy from the district council concerned.  Now all residents will pay the same for services whether they live in west, mid or east Cornwall.

In the briefing notes it was mentioned that Cornwall Council continues to subsidise the maintenance and repair of 24 operational cemeteries, ten closed cemeteries, (cemeteries where there might be room for interments in existing graves or cremated remains plots but there are no full grave spaces left) and over 50 closed Church of England churchyards.