Scotland: How Swedish-style early morning cremations could help stop funeral poverty

Britain’s first not-for-profit funeral firm has revealed how it is helping to tackle funeral poverty by specialising in early-morning cremations, according to an article on iNews.

Caledonia Cremation, based in Glasgow, says using council facilities during less popular hours with no service for the bereaved family has helped it reduce costs. The company typically books crematoriums from 8am, saving hundreds of pounds and allowing it to offer people a fixed-price funeral for an all-inclusive price of £995 ($1,815.00 AU).

The social enterprise company was set up at the start of the year, covering the whole of the Scottish mainland. It offers “direct cremations”, a simple funeral with no service at the crematorium.

These cremations have taken off in England as an affordable option for families. But Caledonia Cremation has reduced costs further by using cheaper vehicles for transport rather than an expensive hearse.

Business founder Mr McColgan says the service they provide is “premium” but affordable. “We have two staff who would take the body to the crematorium and they would be present at the committal,” he adds.

“There is no ceremony or event at the crematorium. The family would either meet before that and have a church service or memorial service, or they could do that after the cremation.”

He adds: “In Sweden this is the typical way of organising a funeral. There’s a separation of the technical aspect of the cremation and the celebration of life – it’s quite common for those to be separated.”

Funeral debt

Around one in seven families in Scotland go into debt just covering the cost of a funeral – and the situation has got worse in recent years. “The average price for a cremation in Scotland is about £3,500 ($6,380 AU), ” Mr McColgan says. “A lot of people really struggle with that and a lot of people end up getting into debt.

The so-called “poverty premium” faced by poorer communities has been highlighted by groups such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

It says people living in poorer areas face paying more for energy, insurance and finance. But they also face the same end-of-life costs as the richest parts of society.

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