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Agenda item

Fees and Charges 2020/21

Minutes:

The Joint Committee deliberated a Joint Report of the Corporate Director of Resources / Treasurer to the Joint Committee and the Interim Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services that set out details of the proposed fees and charges for the Mountsett Crematorium for 2020/21 (for copy see file of minutes).

 

The Principal Accountant notified Members that following the Local Government Review in 2009 fees and charges at the Mountsett Crematorium were harmonised with the charges at Central Durham Crematorium.  The report highlighted the potential extra income that could be received on the various fee increases but he noted that cremation fees should only be increased by £20 which was still below the average charges currently levied across the region.  He remarked that other fees and charges would remain the same except the visual tributes that were supplied by Wesley Music System that would increase slightly to cover administration and equipment charges. The charging policy for child cremations would retain the nil fee.  

 

Councillor Charlton was concerned that there was a huge increase from £12 to £48 for the web cast service.  She felt this was too steep.

 

The Bereavement Services Manager replied that the increase for the web cast would only be £12 as they currently charged £30.  He advised that the increase was to cover administration charges that at present were being incurred by the Crematorium itself.  

 

Councillor Batey agreed that the fee for visual tributes should be increased to ensure that the Crematorium was not out of pocket.  She wanted to know why it was not recommended that the fees for cremations were not increased further to provide extra income and be more competitive with neighbouring crematoriums.

 

The Principal Accountant informed the Committee that a strategic review of the fees and charges had established that the proposed modest increase would cover the cost pressures facing the crematorium, whilst also maintaining a healthy level of balances for the Joint Committee. It was also considered that the increase would not have an impact on future business at the crematorium.

 

Councillor Batey was concerned that if fees were too low then people from farther afield would use the service preventing availability for the local community.

 

Councillor Temple reiterated that Mountsett Crematorium was jointly owned which in itself created a wider community to service.

 

The Neighbourhood Protection Manager acknowledged that Mountsett Crematorium was a wonderful facility and did not want to detract business from outside the area by charging too much for services.  In addition, he noted that funeral poverty was a huge issue within a very competitive market.  There were concerns that some Funeral Director’s lacked transgression on what they charged potentially taking advantage of vulnerable people.  He added that the Crematorium being at the lower end of the charging scale was positive meaning that people had more money in their pockets.

 

Councillor Bradford stated that because Mountsett Crematorium was jointly owned the geographical area that the Crematorium served was larger using people from the West of Gateshead that had used Dipton as their local crematorium as an example.  He added that people who lived in Northumberland should use Prudhoe over Durham as it was closer but there was no reason why they could not use Dipton.  Reiterating funeral poverty, Councillor Bradford advised that if fees were too high it would have a detrimental effect on everyone who used Dipton including the local community as they would also be charged the higher fee.

 

In relation to operational matters the Neighbourhood Protection Manager noted that the Crematorium was not oversubscribed and had the capacity to carry out all cremations it was assigned.

 

Resolved

 

(i)      That the proposed fees and charges effective from 1 April 2020 including the increase cremation charges by £20 (2.9%) per cremation from £700 to £720 be approved.

 

(ii)      That the proposed fees and charges be incorporated into the 2020/21 budget.

 

 

Supporting documents:

 

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