Council U-turns on £45 fee for funeral live-streams

Charges for funeral services are set to increase by 8% but a £45 fee for broadcasting services has been shelved.

Council U-turns on £45 fee for funeral live-streams Google Maps
The plans to a charge for live-streaming at Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy Crematoriums have been shelved.

Plans to charge grieving families to live-stream funerals while coronavirus prevents large gatherings have been reversed after Fife Council was criticised.

The local authority has been offering online broadcasting of services for free to allow mourners to watch funerals while Covid-19 prevents attendance.

A fee of £45 was going to be introduced to cover the cost of live-streaming services online from Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline crematoriums, along with funeral service charges set to increase by 8% next month.

Holyrood election candidates contacted the council asking it to reconsider the plans and the convenor responsible for the service has since apologised.

Annabelle Ewing, SNP for Cowdenbeath, said: “It is a function that in these times should not be offered as an optional extra but a facility that is available for everyone.”

Labour candidate for Cowdenbeath Alex Rowley said: “I was quite appalled by it. It had not been run past Labour councillors, who have immediately stepped in.”

The council originally stood by its decision to impose the fee, with a councillor suggesting that it would not object to families filming services themselves.

But after receiving criticism, it has been confirmed the plans will be removed “immediately”.

Convener of the assets and corporate services sub-committee, councillor David Barratt said: “Webcasting was introduced as a service in June following significant investment to support families and friends unable to attend funerals during pandemic restrictions.

“The decision was made for the service to absorb the costs in full for the rest of the financial year. Clearly, the hope had been that restrictions would have been lifted by the new financial year, but when the circumstances that led to the decision to provide the service persist, it is right to extend the measure and to offer live streaming free of charge for as long as restrictions are in place.

“These were operational decisions that only came to my attention this week having been raised by Annabelle Ewing. As convener of the relevant committee, I have asked for this charge to be removed immediately.

“The council has received money to mitigate the impact of Covid restrictions, and I expect the costs associated with this service to be met by that and not from mourning families. As the convenor responsible for this service, I am sorry for any confusion and distress this has caused.”