The cost of dying is on the rise, forcing bereaved Sunderland families to pay thousands for funerals.
New figures, issued by pension and investment company Royal London, show that a burial in Sunderland now costs £3,892 and a cremation £3,255.
According to the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index surveys 2015, UK funeral prices have risen by 3.9%. The average funeral is now £3,702 - up £140 from £3,562 in 2014- and funeral directors in the region are calling it the biggest increase yet.
Funeral director Tony Clarke from Tony Clarke Funeral Directors Tyne and Wear LDT in South Hylton, said he had seen a ‘massive increase’ in prices.
“We have seen a massive increase year by year – it’s not getting any easier for families who are struggling themselves,” he said.
“There is a Government Social Fund of £1,400 but that is only a proportion of what families get. It is getting worse and fees are going up and up.”
Councillor Michael Mordey, Portfolio Holder for City Services at Sunderland City Council said: “The city council keeps its part of funeral costs constantly under review and as low as it possibly can.” In neighbouring South Shields, a burial costs £4,147 and a cremation costs £3,335.
In Hartlepool, a burial will set a family back £3,490 while those opting for a cremation will pay an average of £3,299.
Figures show the most expensive areas for a burial in the North East are Durham North, Durham Central and Bishop Auckland.
Nationally, the new index reveals the cost of a funeral continues to be a postcode lottery.
Funerals range from £2,976, for a cremation in Greenock, Scotland, to £7,216 for a burial in Beckenham, Kent – a difference of £4,240.