THE surge in burial charges in Clackmannanshire will plunge people who have lost loved ones into poverty, according to one local politician.

A report called The Cost of Saying Goodbye 2017, published by Citizen Advice Scotland shows costs in the Wee County have increased by 15 per cent in the last year and nearly 80 per cent since 2014.

Clackmannanshire Council is the local authority with the biggest rise in burial charges in monetary value over the last three years – increasing to more than £1600.

Mark Ruskell, Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: "Clackmannanshire Council have increased burial charges by a massive 80 per cent or £730 in the last three years.

"It now costs £1,643.35 to bury a loved one, which is more than £200 above the Scottish average. Of course, burial charges are just one of many costs incurred at what is an extremely difficult time for families.

"These charges should be revisited to ensure that Wee County residents aren't being pushed further into poverty as a result of funeral expenses."

Citizens Advice Scotland consumer spokesperson Ruth Mendel said the aim of the report is to encourage families to plan ahead.

She said: "What is striking is that the average charge has increased by 27 per cent since 2014, which is 3.5 times the rate of inflation. That is a substantial increase at a time when many families will have seen their incomes fall.

"Our data also shows that there remains a postcode lottery in burial costs in Scotland, with some councils charging significantly higher fees than others just a few miles away.

"Bereavement is a difficult time for any family, and the financial side of planning and paying for a funeral or cremation can of course compound the emotional difficulties, particularly for those who are on lower incomes or where the bereavement is unexpected.

"In publishing this data we hope to sensitively encourage people to think ahead and plan for funeral and cremation fees. And while we understand the financial pressures that local authorities face, we urge them to consider the impact that high burial charges can have on people at what can be one of the most difficult times in their lives."

Clackmannanshire Council's increase in costs of 79.6 per cent since 2014 was more than double that of Falkirk Council's and 11 times that of the 7.1 per cent recorded by Stirling Council.

A spokesperson for the local authority said: "Clackmannanshire Council's charges were historically very low when compared to other councils. Changes were made to bring them in line with other areas and to more accurately reflect the costs of providing the service.

"Our position when compared to other areas will change year on year as different councils change their charges in differing timescales."