Sunderland cremation fees 'among highest in the North East' - council defends costs

Grieving families in Sunderland pay one of the highest cremation fees in the North East, figures have revealed.

Tuesday, 13th August 2019, 16:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th August 2019, 18:18 pm
Sunderland Crematorium. Picture by Frank Reid

The service provided on Wearside is also among the most expensive in the country, with fees at the city’s crematorium in the top third across the country, according to the most recent figures.

Bills start at £765 for an adult cremation, rising to £800 if they are deemed a ‘non-resident’.

Prices rise further if a weekend date is requested, with the bereaved also facing the prospect of additional charges, such as ‘Medical Reference’ and ‘Environmental Protection’ fees.

The latest data, compiled in a joint investigation by the BBC and the Cremation Society, a charity, paints a stark picture of the costs of cremation at council-run facilities in the UK.

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This found the cheapest offering was Belfast, which currently has the lowest cost for cremation at £364.

But in Milton Keynes, in Buckinghamshire, the most expensive, families can expect to pay a basic fee of £960, more than double the charge in Northern Ireland’s capital.

Private sector crematoria are likely to charge the biggest bills however, with top prices in some parts of the country reaching more than £1,000, according to the Cremation Society.

The charity claims Newcastle’s cremations are slightly more expensive than Sunderland’s, with a standard price of £770, plus further charges for administration.

Fees at County Durham’s two crematoria are among the lowest, both regionally and nationally.

Coun Amy Wilson, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for Environment and Transport, who also oversees bereavement services, said: “The council keeps its part of funeral costs constantly under review and as low as possible while also reflecting the standards and services that the bereaved rightly expect.”

Coun Robert Oliver, leader of the city’s opposition Conservative group, claimed council bosses were ‘willing to raise the price of cremations but unwilling to rein in unnecessary spending’.

He added: “It is difficult for residents to avoid paying council cremation fees as they cannot shop around or easily use another council so they are forced to pay ever-higher fees.”