Funeral costs in Hartlepool are the lowest in the North East, new figures show.
Statistics from the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index surveys have show that in Hartlepool this year a burial will set a family back £3,490 while those opting for a cremation will be forced to pay £3,299.
The cost in the town is the lowest in the region, with Bishop Auckland, Durham North and Durham Central the highest at £4,300.
This year prices have risen higher than 1% inflation with an increase of 3.9%. The average funeral is now £3,702 - up £140 from £3,562 in 2014 - and funeral directors in the region are calling it the biggest increase yet.
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “We acknowledge that organising the funeral of a loved one can be a very difficult and distressing experience for grieving families.
“Our fees are only one component of funeral costs. We try to ensure that our burial and cremation services are of the highest possible standard whilst also striving to keep fees – which largely fund these services - as low as possible.”
The council spokesman added: “We do, however, face financial pressures in terms of the upkeep of our cemeteries and crematorium.
“For example, the maintenance of buildings, equipment, roads and pathways is an on-going issue and in 2013/14 we were required to install new cremators and abatement plant at our crematorium at Stranton Cemetery to comply with EU regulations.”
A large proportion of costs come from the funeral directors who are faced with rising prices for services causing them to up their fees.
But other costs come from local authorities themselves with Hartlepool Borough Council’s current charges for the purchase of a standard single-depth grave starting at £605 and can vary depending upon the chosen location of the grave within the cemetery.
A further charge is made for subsequent burial and associated services; prices for a single depth burial start at £585 where the deceased’s age exceeded 12 at the time of death.
Where people opt to purchase double or triple-depth graves then correspondingly higher charges apply.
Cremation costs are currently £670 for an adult (a person aged 16 or over).
The bereaved family can choose to make their own arrangements for the final resting place of ashes.
There are also burial options for the ashes available within the cemetery for an additional charge.
The survey found that nationally London was the most expensive, with a burial costing £4,234 and a cremation costing £4,402.