A LEADING funeral director has criticised a council decision to increase funeral costs by up to 43 per cent.

Paul Bowley said he feared that the increases would put “further financial strain” on families in the city.

Mr Bowley, of Bowley Funeral Service, writing on behalf of the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, said they would be unfairly blamed for a rise that was out of their control.

He said: “The council argues that the price increases will bring in an additional income of £150,000 but I do not believe the council should be using funerals as a way of generating income.

“I am deeply concerned about the impact these changes will have on families here in Brighton and I hope the council rethinks its decision.”

He called on the council to rethink the move agreed earlier this month by councillors for above-inflation increases in wedding and funeral costs in venues across the city.

Council officers said the increase was designed to bring the local authority in line with its neighbours including Worthing and Eastbourne.

The highest rise will fall on the council and NHS for public health funerals which will rise by £130 to £430 from January.

But residents will be asked to pay 16.2 per cent more to use Woodvale chapel for weekend services.

Graveyard plots for children will rise by 17.6 per cent to £120 while adult interment graves will rise by 18 per cent to £850.

The proposals will generate an additional annual income for Brighton and Hove City Council of up to £150,000.

Mr Bowley, who has been a funeral director for more than 25 years, said he was “disappointed” in the rise warning it would put further financial strain on many families already living in funeral poverty in Brighton and Hove.

He said he has signed up to the Fair Funerals pledge, a campaign created by the Funeral Poverty Alliance whose members described the rise earlier this month as “outrageous”.

Mr Bowley said a funeral director’s fee typically represents around half of the total cost of a funeral.

He added: “The rest is a combination of third party costs which are outside of a funeral director’s control, although we are often unfairly blamed for any increases.

“In recent years funeral directors’ fees have risen only in line with inflation."