Caithness councillor Struan Mackie in call to end paupers' funerals in Highland
The Conservative group’s deputy leader Councillor Struan Mackie delivered a rebuke to Highland Council for not dealing with the "tragic" issue of funeral poverty.
Following the agreement of this year's budget, the Thurso and Northwest Caithness councillor pointed to number of areas that could have been improved if some suggestions had been taken forward.
Chief among them them was the fact that one in 10 paupers' funerals – something many believe are a thing of the past – happen in the Highlands.
He welcomed no increase in the costs of funerals, cremations or layers in the current year but squarely blamed the council for increasing fees over a number of years, leaving many struggling to pay.
The budget as agreed, he said, failed to take action on the issue.
"It would be wrong not to acknowledge that the budget agreement represents a significant improvement on previous budgets within this council term, but we did wish to push the local authority further,” Cllr Mackie said.
"The Conservative group put forward a number of proposals that would help tackle funeral poverty, support small business and invest millions more into our crumbling road. We are disappointed that our plans have not been taken forward but we are resolved to see these issues addressed.
"The cost of bereavement services across Scotland is a national scandal and Highland Council needs to exhaust every power that it has to end funeral poverty. Freezing the cost of burials, cremations and lairs for this year is welcome but until these charges reduce we will not begin to turn the tide.
"A decade of increases have made the Highland region one of the most expensive places in Scotland to die. Every Highlander deserves dignity in death and not to have their family saddled with financial hardship.
"The revelations that Highland represented 10 per cent of all paupers’ funerals will shock many people who believe that these funerals were a thing of the past."