THE huge proposed hike in the cost of dying in Poole has led to calls for the council’s cabinet to cut the increases, which range from eight to nearly 10 per cent.

Borough of Poole’s own equalities impact assessment identified that the steep rise in fees would adversely affect the more vulnerable older residents and those with disabilities or ill health.

A report before Borough of Poole’s environment overview and scrutiny committee revealed that the £135,000 additional income from bereavement fees for 2011/12 was higher than the £112,000 beach hut income.

“It is shocking that the increases in bereavement fees are planned to rake in more extra cash for the council than the controversial 15 per cent hike in beach hut fees,” said Liberal Democrat Cllr Phil Eades. “At least the beach hut tenants have the option not to renew their beach hut tenancy.

“All residents of Poole are caught by the charges for cemeteries and crematoria.

“It cannot be right to penalise residents, at the worst time in their lives, to this extent and I am delighted that members of the environment scrutiny committee have supported my call for the cabinet to rethink and bring forward reductions to these increases.”

His recommendation, seconded by Cllr Sandra Moore, was approved and will now go to cabinet for a decision.

Fees for the cremation of an adult for example, rose from £455 in April 2009 to £535 last September and will cost £580 from April this year, a further increase of just under 10 per cent.

The three-year plan is for an additional 7.5 per cent increase in 2012/13 bringing in another £105,000 plus 7.5 per cent in 2013/14 totalling an extra £115,000.

However Clive Smith, head of leisure services, said they were not planning two rises, as happened last year, and would be reviewing future increases as the year progressed.

“We are trying not to cut core frontline services but we have to cope with the massive budget cuts of the council,” he said.

Beach hut income is due to outstrip bereavement fees in the two future financial years.