Grave Robbery (literally!)

Hi,

I just wanted to raise the issue of "Non-Resident" Burial/Cremation costs which is one of the latest (if rather sick) methods that cash-strapped councils are using to raise revenue. Essentially, my father died in April at the age of 69 years. He was born and lived in the North East of England until the age of 60, but due to health issues, he was forced to move - finally spending the last few months of his life living in a nursing home close to me (in Yorkshire). In all of his 69 years, he regarded the North East as Home and he had longed to return, but sadly his health conditions were progressive and his extremely poor mobility meant that he was very heavily dependent on others (so it was better for him to be living closer to his children towards the end of his life).

His dying wish was to be buried "at home" in the North East, in the cemetary where his parents and brother (who had died as a child) was buried. And, in this time of distress, can a grieving family hope for better news - than to learn that Sunderland City Council charge TWICE the going rate for "non-residents". So, not much change out of £2,700 for just digging the grave and putting dad in it then!! Having researched this scandalous policy regardign fees, I understand that they are not the only authority resorting to "Grave Robbery" to bolster coffers.

It appears that having lived and worked in that area for the majority of his life counts for nothing (although I am still awaiting a response from the Head of Bereavement Services at Sunderland City Council to an email I sent them on the 7th May, asking them to justify this practice). A month later I am beginning to think that the lack of any response means that perhaps the "Head of Bereavement Services" has died of shame (in which case, I sincerely hope that they wish to be laid to rest in the area in which they are currently residing!)

Seriously though, I could understand it if families just went around the country picking out nice looking cemetries in salubious areas to bury their loved ones...but that hardly happens does it? No-one publishes a guide to "Good Cemeteries" do they?! The reason that most families chose a place of burial is because of a close connection to it, often because the deceased person has been a long-term former resident and that is where the family has its strongest roots. I can certainly assure any readers that this particular cemetry in the North East would not be a "high demand" area...except in the case of a strong local connection. Indeed, looking around at the gravestones, I spotted a few notorious names who had made headlines in the Sunderland Echo for the wrong reasons...and had it not have been Dad's desperate wish to return home, I certainly wouldn't have buried him there!

It seems ironic that the person who moves into that area just a few months before he/she dies has the right to reduced "resident rates" whereas those who have moved away (regardless of the circumstances and how long they have lived there previously) are really rather "ripped off". So grieving families at a time of great emotional distress are faced with trying to do the right thing and reconcile the honouring of their loved ones wishes with the exorbitant cost of doing so.

Today's society is much more mobile than the society of yesteryear. Even where families have belonged to an area for many generations, more often than not now, some members of those families move away for work reasons. If close relatives such as parents fall ill and need looking after, it is often the most logical solution for them to move to be besides their children, rather than having to resort to overburdening social services' resources and leaving the care of these loved ones in the hands of strangers. But the pitfall to trying to be a responsible family is potentially to fall foul of "non-resident" burial/cremation fees when the end finally comes...as it will to us all.

In my opinion, these charging policies of Sunderland City Council and other like-minded authorities...really do stoop to the lowest of the low.

PS If anyone from Sunderland City Council happens to be reading this...you would regain a small modicum of my respect if you could be courteous enough to reply to my email of over a month ago!
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Replies

  • ~Beanie~~Beanie~ Forumite
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    You have my sympathies, Stoke-on-Trent council are the same. My dad died last April, although his postal address was 'Stoke-on-Trent', the village he lived in actually came under Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. Because of this, we would have had to pay over £5,000 just for the burial plot in Stoke's municipal cemetery, 3.5 miles down the road :mad: This being despite the fact that he was born and bred in Stoke on Trent and spent his whole life there!
    :p
  • Didn't know this happens I'm shocked now wondering if this happened with my families funeral was expensive to bury them and that's without the headstone costs my gran and dad from up north but lived here for years and years.But was a few years ago they died so maybe this is a new thing charging extra hope not.Does it say on your council website about the costs and why they are that price.
  • dizziedizzie Forumite
    390 Posts
    Didn't know this happens I'm shocked now wondering if this happened with my families funeral was expensive to bury them and that's without the headstone costs my gran and dad from up north but lived here for years and years.But was a few years ago they died so maybe this is a new thing charging extra hope not.Does it say on your council website about the costs and why they are that price.

    Miss Scrooge, The council concerned does publish its fees online....although it's not something you generally look at until you're in a situation where you need to. They do not publish the reason for their charging policy. However, I have read replies to other complaints about this on the internet, and councils have said that they charge non residents more in recognition of the fact that residents pay their council tax in that area. Rather ironic then, that in my father's case, all of his economically productive years of life (during which time he did pay "Council Tax", and before that, "Poll Tax", and before that, "Rates") were spent living in and contributing to that very area. When he moved away, he could no longer work and due to low income and assets, he was being supported by the national taxpayer...and contributed nothing financially thereafter to the area he moved into!
  • fin7fin7 Forumite
    198 Posts
    Oh hellsbells! I didn't know this.

    My dad had a prepaid funeral, after he died and mum had reached the unfortunate stage of having to go in a nursing home me and my brother took the decision to get her a prepaid funeral too so when the time comes its all sorted. Thing is the nursing home is literally on the other side of the street from the council she's lived all her life in, the boundary is actually the middle of the street.


    Methinks I'm going to have to look into this!


    Fin
  • mrcowmrcow Forumite
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    To the above poster- If it's any help, my council has the following clause in its charging information:


    All charges apply where the person to be buried or the person leasing the grave, etc., are residents of the Borough. Residents of the Borough who have moved into a home or hospital outside the Borough prior to death are charged as residents.
    "One day I realised that when you are lying in your grave, it's no good saying, "I was too shy, too frightened."
    Because by then you've blown your chances. That's it."
  • PZHPZH Forumite
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    I didn't know this either :eek:

    Not that I intend to die any time soon, but due to unfortunate events in life I find myself living in the Midlands after having been born and raised in Hull, and living in the East Riding until a few years ago.

    Both my parents ashes are scattered in Hull and I would not wish to be scattered anywhere else.

    Not sure if it applies to cremation, but I will look into this more I think.

    My sincere condolences to Dizzie but also my sincere thanks.
    “That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”
  • knightstyleknightstyle Forumite
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    That is awful!!!! We have just buried my father in a woodland site, £600 and very relaxed peaceful etc, plus we could take as long as we wanted as we were the only burial that week.
  • bod1467bod1467
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    I've said that the medical sciences can have any part of me they wish. (After I die - might be a bit painful beforehand).

    Anything left over I want to be cremated, with the track Highway To Hell playing in the background. :D

    I don't care what then happens to the ashes.

    Am I unusual?
  • fin7fin7 Forumite
    198 Posts
    mrcow wrote: »
    To the above poster- If it's any help, my council has the following clause in its charging information:


    All charges apply where the person to be buried or the person leasing the grave, etc., are residents of the Borough. Residents of the Borough who have moved into a home or hospital outside the Borough prior to death are charged as residents.

    Thanks for that, think I'd better check to make sure our council is the same.


    When I die I've left instructions that I want to be cremated, fine says my daughter, I've also said I want "welcome to the house of fun" by madness to be played on the way into the chapel, daughter says she's not having that, cheek of it, lol!
  • montyrebelmontyrebel Forumite
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    helps if you have a friendly undertaker, ours went with me and my aunt when we had to get my grandads death certs etc.

    they waived the fee for us :beer:
    mortui non mordent
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