Burial costs in Croydon are likely to increase from April, if a council plan is approved.
A number of potential sites are being evaluated, according to a council spokesman, but if none can be found by April, the cost of bereavement is expected to face another rise.
The standard charge for a new grave is currently £4,362, which consists of £3,350 for 50 years exclusive burial rights and £1,015 for interrment, according to the council’s 2016-17 Crematorium & Cemeteries fee structure.
When extra services are included, funeral costs can easily be more than £7,000, making the borough one of the most expensive places to die in the UK.
The reasons for the high prices are the withdrawal of council funding and the lack of space. For the past 10 years, Greenlawn Memorial Park in Warlingham has been the only public cemetery able to provide new burial plots. However, the cemetery is likely to be full within the next couple of years.
In 2014, the council proposed to extend the Greenlawn site, but the plan was rejected a year later, after overwhelming public objection. If the proposal had been passed there would have been enough burial plots for the next 58 years.
After the plan was dropped, Croydon Council turned its attention to reclaiming old graves last used over 75 years ago, at historical cemetery yards at Mitcham Road cemetery and Queens Road.
The price for reclaimed plots is around £1,700, almost half that of a new grave. But for local people with specific religious needs, even this might not be helpful enough.
Ashtaq Arain, Founding Director of TMJ Consultants and a loyal participant of Faiths Together in Croydon, said that over 60% of reclaimed graves did not work for the Islamic community.
“In the Islamic religion, we need to be buried in a certain position,” said Arain. “We believe that the body is holy and should be aligned perpendicular to the Qibla – that is toward Mecca, the holy city.”
He added: “It is not about whether the plot has being used or not, it’s purely because the positioning.”
For those without religious limitations, cremation is also another possible option and cheaper option.
Ivor Dehaney, a Croydon local told Eastlondonlines: “Being a Christian, it is alright for us to be cremated and that is fortunate enough for us I think. It is really expensive to be buried in London.”
The new Croydon bereavement charge will be published on April 1, 2017.