Funerals too expensive for many Hackney locals

An image of a grave in Abney Park Cemetary

Many hard-up Hackney citizens are struggling to pay for funerals, as the cost of public funerals has rocketed in Hackney over the last three years.

The cost of burials and cremations funded by Hackney Council increased from over £23,000 in 2012 to nearly £40,000 in 2014, figures obtained by the Hackney Post show.

Kristina Soup, of Central Street, was forced quickly to arrange a cheaper £5,000 funeral for her mother, Iryna, who died from an advanced brain tumour.

Ms Soup, 29, was shocked by the price that funeral directors were demanding. “You don’t think to shop around. Shopping for a funeral director is the last thing that’s going to be on your mind,” she said.

Ms Soup received a small contribution from the council at just £600 and scraped the rest of the money together from family members to fund the funeral.

But she was forced to scale down her mum’s send-off.

“It was quite a sensitive thing to do and I wanted to give her the best of everything, like a horse and carriage. But when I found out the prices, I had to cut down on a lot of things that I wanted to give her,” she said.

Andrew Woollard, a spokesman for Hackney Council, said that the shocking 68 per cent increase in costs could be a result of the council’s appointment of a new funeral director.

Heather Kennedy, spokeswoman for anti-poverty charity Quaker Social Action, thinks that the increase in public health funerals could be a result of welfare reforms.

But Mr Woollard said that the council had looked into the reason behind the rising demand for the funerals.

“In 2013 the bereavement service received a 72 per cent increase of referrals from St Joseph’s Hospice and a 40 per cent increase in referrals from family and friends,” he said.

“We haven’t carried out any research into these increases and believe they may be attributed to a number of reasons,” he added.

Ms Kennedy said that the sky high cost of funerals is stopping poor residents from sending off their loved ones properly.

“We often find that people aren’t able to grieve properly because they’ve got this huge practical burden hanging over their heads,” she said.

(Featured Image: Fin Fahey)