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Public Health Funerals on the Rise in Leeds

We know that funeral costs are rising, which is placing a strain on both families and government funds. Public health funerals are following a steady uptrend in Leeds, with an average of two such funerals being held every week, each costing over £1,000.

Surging funeral costs and the recession have left many families in Leeds unable to afford a final farewell to their loved ones, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported recently.

Out of eight major cities in Britain, Leeds has the third highest charges for burials and the fourth highest for cremations. In 2012 alone, funeral costs in Leeds doubled.

An investigation by the Yorkshire Evening Post shows that Leeds City Council and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have organised 659 "pauper's funerals" over the past five years. More than 63% of these were for people aged 60 and over and just over three-quarters were for men.

Leeds City Council and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust spent a combined £665,904 over the last five years on the simple services, which include a basic coffin, a hearse and the burial and cremation fees.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust spent £43,588 between April and September 2012 on 72 public health funerals. It organised 91 funerals in 2011, up from 64 in 2008.

The average funeral organised by the Trust cost £1,075 - £2,000 in the last financial year, compared with £705 - £1,250 in 2007.

The average cost of a public health funeral arranged by the council is £1,403, compared with £1,126 five years ago.

A recent report by the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals a rising number of family and friends unable to contribute to the costs of a funeral in the past three years. The number of public health funerals is increasing across the country, with local authorities having to pay for nearly 3,000 funerals in 2011, according to a survey by the LGA.