A private funeral company has been accused of deflecting attention from its own failings in publishing a report that heavily criticised council-run Perth crematorium.
The study, billed by funeral provider Dignity as “the most rigorous study of cremations ever undertaken in the UK”, said the Perth facility offered the shortest services in Scotland, leaving mourners feeling as “if they were on a conveyor belt.”
But anti-funeral poverty campaigners in Tayside have struck back at the provider – which operates the crematorium in Dundee – accusing it of using the report to “throw the public off the scent” of its own high charges.
Jacky Close, development co-ordinator with Faith in the Community, who campaigns against funeral poverty, said services in the Dundee Crematorium were “the most expensive in Scotland, if not in the UK.”
“Because the charges are so high it also means that it is unaffordable for people on low incomes to meet the full costs and they end up in debt.
“I have also heard from families that the crematorium in Dundee is run down and shabby.
“As Dignity have paid for this report, I would also be concerned about its objectivity. My sense is that they are trying to throw the public off the scent with this.”
The UK-wide study claimed four in ten people in Scotland, or 42%, who had organised a cremation funeral felt the experience was like being on a conveyor belt.
A further four in ten, or 39%, of mourners also felt that they were not given enough time to properly say goodbye to their loved one at the crematorium.
Stuart Cox, Dignity corporate communications manager, said his company commissioned the research but it was carried out by market research agency Trajectory.
“In the survey of 2,000 people that have recently arranged a funeral they told us the most important factor in organising a cremation is being able to make a booking that allows them sufficient time to pay their respects to loved ones,” he said.
He said the company had recently introduced a number of new cremation services at Dundee starting at £499.
“Compared on a price per minute basis, Dignity crematoria are cheaper than the market average,” he said.
A Perth council spokesperson strongly disputed claims concerning short services at Perth Crematorium, pointing out they had written to Dignity “to express their concern at the inaccuracy and ask for this misinformation to be corrected.”
“We look to provide a service which is responsive to the requirements of individual families and ensures bereaved families and mourners can mark the passing of their loved ones in an appropriate way,” she added.