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Agenda item

Fees and Charges 2019/20

Joint Report of the Corporate Director of Resources / Treasurer to the

Joint Committee and the Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local

Services.

 

Minutes:

The Joint Committee considered a joint report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services and Corporate Director of Resources and Treasurer to the Joint Committee which set out details of the proposed fees and charges for Durham Crematorium for 2019/20 (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

The Head of Finance and Transactional Services advised that taking into account inflationary and cost pressures, including the increase of the Medical Referee fee.  It was recommended that the cremation fee increased by £20 (2.9 percent) to £700 inclusive of medical referee, and environmental surcharge fees where appropriate.

 

In reference to the earlier question from Councillor S Quinn, the Head of Finance and Transactional Services noted that there was a proposed “direct cremation”, both attended and unattended, with no service which was to be charged at a reduced fee, £590 and £450 respectively.  Councillors noted that in cases where a longer service was required, it was proposed for a charge of £50 where the allotted time was exceeded by 10 minutes or more.  The Head of Finance and Transactional Services added there had been no cancellation fee within the fees and charges previously and it was proposed there was a fee of £250, although it was noted that it was rare that a service would be cancelled.

 

Members were reminded that following Local Government Review in 2009 the fees and charges at the Central Durham Crematorium were harmonised with the charges at Mountsett Crematorium and that Mountsett Crematorium Joint Committee had met on 31 January 2019 and agreed their fees and charges.

 

A full schedule of the proposed fees and charges for Durham Crematorium was shown in Appendix 2 of the report, alongside benchmarking comparison data shown in Appendix 3.

 

Councillor K Thompson noted the report set out a balance in terms of fees and charges, and asked that in the future, given the healthy position in terms of reserves, if there would be an opportunity to look at the distribution of surplus.

 

The Head of Finance and Transactional Services noted that this would be the case once the loan payback was complete.  He added that this would be similar to previous strategy papers, looking at cremation numbers, any issues raised within the Service Asset Management Plan (SAMP) and would include a range of options which could include a reduction of fees or increased surplus distribution.  He added that this would likely be after 2020/21.  Councillor K Thompson asked if there could be an option in terms of partner Authorities receiving a lump sum.  The Head of Finance and Transactional Services noted options, including any potential dividend would be set out within a strategy paper.

 

Councillor D Brown asked if many services overran and was there time for people to enter and exit the facility.  The Bereavement Services Manager noted that there was some scope to accommodate, with the proposed fee being for an overrun of 10 minutes or more than the allocated slot.

 

Councillor H Liddle noted the charge for the use of the chapel only was considerable greater than those listed for other facilities and asked if there was a demand for its use.  The Bereavement Services Manager noted there was an increasing demand, however, as this would take up a cremation and service slot the fee was to reflect any loss of cremation fee.  The Head of Finance and Transactional Services noted that the benchmarking figures were the current fees and charges of the other facilities and that they too would be undergoing reviews of their fees and charges for the upcoming year.

 

The Vice-Chairman, Councillor I Machin asked if there had been any further information as regards a potential crematorium at Castle Eden.  The Bereavement Services Manager noted he had no additional information at this time.

 

The Head of Finance and Transactional Services noted the prudent forecast in terms of cremation numbers and the issues and risks that would be factored into future forecasts accordingly.

 

Resolved:

 

(i)       That Members of the Joint Committee note and approve the proposed fees    and charges at Appendix 2 effective from 1 April 2019, which seeks to           increase the cremation by £20 (2.9%) per crematorium from £680 to £700.

(ii)      The proposed fees and charges are incorporated into the 2019/20 budget.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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County Durham
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