The cost of cremation is going up and some Wiganers are having to fork out some of the highest funeral fees in the country.
New figures show Charnock Richard Crematorium, a popular choice of venue for many families in the borough, is charging a basic fee of £999 this year.
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This fee, a rise of 6.73 per cent from the £936 price in 2017, is close to the highest fee in the country of £1,070 which mourners will be set back at 10 locations nationwide.
The borough’s other crematoria fall in the middle of the cost range, with Wigan charging a basic fee of £683 and Howe Bridge setting families back £845.
These figures are an increase of 11.06 per cent and 6.29 per cent on the 2017 costs respectively.
The rising costs mean families are now looking at an average funeral service cost running into the thousands of pounds, with totals of £3,256 for Wigan, £3,368 for Howe Bridge and £3,509 for Charnock Richard.
Wigan Crematorium in Ince is run by Wigan Council while Charnock Richard and Howe Bridge are under the control of the Westerleigh Group and Dignity respectively.
Those in charge of ensuring relatives are able to say a final goodbye to their loved ones spoke of their determination to keep the financial burden as low as possible at a time when costs are rising.
Andrew Bond, bereavement services manager at Wigan Council, said: “Wigan Council is proud to offer a cost effective service for residents across Wigan borough and hope our low costs help reduce the stress and financial burden families face during a difficult time for them.
“We review our fees and charges annually to make sure we are providing the best value for residents across the borough and we continually strive to provide new offers for families dealing with bereavement.
“Last year saw flexible chapel time bookings introduced following request of funeral directors.
“In addition to managing cost for services for local residents we are working hard to increase choice for families to remember their loved ones within council facilities.”
The council also offers a fixed-price residents’ funeral service charging £1,964 for cremation and £1,957 for burials.
Dignity said its fees at Charnock Richard reflected the longer services available and pointed out its cost was competitive on a per-minute basis.
A spokesperson said: “People tell us that the most important factor in organising a cremation funeral is being able to book a venue that allows them sufficient time to pay their respects to loved ones.
"We have service slots of 60 minutes whereas many other crematoria across the UK only provide 30 or 40-minute slots.
"Compared on a price per minute basis the fee at Charnock Richard Crematorium is £16.75 which is considerably less than the national average (£17.80).
"Our fee also includes components that our competitors often charge separately for, such as legal and practical necessities.
"Our fee structure gives families a number of choices at different price levels and services are available from £499.
"Local funeral directors have already been informed that we will not be increasing our prices this year.”
The Westerleigh Group says it tries to balance cost with providing a high-quality service for the borough’s families.
A spokesperson said: “Howe Bridge’s price is not the highest in the area but it is over the average.
“However, that is because we believe it offers a high standard of service.
“Howe Bridge is purpose-built to the standard families expect in the 21st century and is in a very peaceful setting.
"Some of the crematoria in Greater Manchester date back more than 100 years.
“We are providing a premium service and this is a choice many families take on what is a very special and important day in their lives.
“Prices are rising, especially because crematoria had a 20 per cent increase in business rates imposed on them last year.
“Other costs going up include salaries, maintenance and energy bills. These are all critical components but we are doing our best to keep prices down. We are not complacent and we only put up prices after much thought.”