Opposition leader slams plans to raise Brent’s death tax

Cllr John Warren, leader of Brent Conservative Group slammed the number of houses Brent Council owns

Cllr John Warren, leader of Brent Conservative Group slammed the number of houses Brent Council owns outside the borough - Credit: Archant

The cost of dying in Brent is set to increase by hundreds of pounds in a budget proposal passed by the council’s cabinet.

In the draft budget heard by Brent Council’s cabinet on Monday it was revealed among fees to be increased by the council were the cost of grave plots, coffins and burials.

The move has been branded a “tax on the dead” by the council’s opposition leader Cllr John Warren.

For a Brent resident, an adult’s grave plot in Brent Cemetery, along with burial costs and a coffin are set to be £3784.

This is a 10 per cent rise on last year, with the same service costing £3440.

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The costs are without factoring in hiring the church, or paying for a headstone. Both fees are also set to rise.

For someone living outside Brent, seeking to be buried inside the borough, the overall cost is also set to rise by 10pc to £5417.

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The proposed increases are part of Brent Council’s efforts to balance its books.

Brent Conservative leader Cllr John Warren said: “It’s a stealth tax, and a tax on the dead.

“Just like increases for green waste collections, and parking charges in recent years, they’re punitive costs.

“Brent Council may preach financial prudence, but it is built off the back of fleecing Brent residents,” he said.

Sudbury resident and former Liberal Democrat leader of the council Paul Lorber said the increase was unjustified: “This simply highlights the double standards of Labour politicians who complain about squeeze on living standards because wages are not rising and then hit the pockets of Brent residents, many on low income, by such massive rises in charges for council services.”

Other fees and charges that are set to rise include a 10pc increase in the price of childcare places at council-run nurseries.

If passed, the on-the-spot fine for dog fouling will rise by £20 to £100.

At the meeting at Brent Civic Centre, the council’s chief finance officer Conrad Hall described the budget as being based on “sensible and credible estimates.”

In a statement issued after the meeting, Cllr Margaret McLennan, deputy leader of the Council said: “Amid increased demand for local services and the pressures of rising costs and inflation, councils across the country are faced with tough decisions. This year, Brent will have to make savings of £12.9m in order to keep providing and delivering the vital services that people rely on.

“A proposal for a modest increase in fees, including cemetery fees has been put forward to the Council for consideration as part of the Budget for 2018/19 and a decision will be made at the Full Council meeting later this month.”

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