No more 'cash for ash', demands Bolton funeral director
A FUNERAL director is campaigning to axe the controversial “cash for ash” levy.
Luke Martin, who was the youngest undertaker in the country at just 17, believes the amount doctors can charge for completing paperwork before a cremation is “ridiculous” and “greedy”.
Under current rules, when a patient dies and is not the subject of an inquest, that person cannot be cremated until two doctors — normally their GP and one other — check their medical history.
Doctors who carry out the “10 minute task” charge up to £80 to fill out the paperwork, a cost which is charged to the funeral director, who then passes it on to the family.
The 28-year-old, who opened Luke Martin Independent Funeral Service in Memorial Road last year, serving Walkden, Little Hulton, Westhoughton, Atherton and Salford, also wants to keep costs in line with inflation and scrap the environmental surcharge, hoping to save families a total of up to £250.
He said: “The UK’s funeral industry is uncivilised, deceitful and greedy. I think it’s ridiculous that doctors are paid up to £80 for which is essentially a 10 minute job.
"But because two doctors must do this, it can add on an extra £160 to the cost of a funeral, which many people just cannot afford.
“In Salford the cost of a cremation has increased by about nine per cent, which equates to £55, bringing the total cost of a cremation to £680.
"I feel this amounts to nothing more than penalising the dead and their families.
“In fact I’m so disgusted that I refuse to pass on this cost to families and still charge £625.”
Mr Martin, who has conducted the funeral of a number of relatives including his grandmother in 2008 and father Phillip Cunningham in 2011, says he also wants costs to keep in line with inflation.
He added: “I’d like to see local authorities regulated so cremation and burial costs are realistic and do not increase above inflation.
"I also want the £56.60 environmental surcharge to be withdrawn or levied through other means.
"These changes would in some cases result in a reduction of £250 per cremation funeral.
"Grieving families have enough on their plate after they have lost a loved one without having to worry about finding the money to lay them to rest.”
Throughout May, Mr Martin is asking people who back his campaign to send their name, email and postal address with the title “I want change” via the comment box on the website for a petition to lower funeral costs which will be submitted to government.
You can sign up to the campaign here.
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