Research and Analytics


CIPFA Cemeteries Statistics

February 2003

A brief summary of the development of the service is given below and it is hoped that this will be of interest to users of these statistics. This summary has been taken from the Environmental Services Volume (21) of the Institute's Financial Information Services.
'Burial of the dead was primarily a matter for the Church until the nineteenth century when many parish churchyards became used to capacity and an urgent need arose for additional facilities. Cemeteries were first established under private Acts, local authorities later being empowered to provide them by the Public Health (Interment) Act 1879. A series of Acts, known collectively as the Burial Acts 1852-1906, provided for the provision of burial grounds and parochial bodies but later legislation enabled local authorities to act as burial authorities. Subsequent legislation provided for the transfer of the powers and duties of burial boards to local authorities. As far as local authorities are concerned, the statutory provisions have been replaced in the main, by those of the Local Government Act 1972 and the Local Authorities Cemeteries Order 1977. Although private cemetery companies have been gradually taken over by local authorities, a number continue to operate independently under their private Act powers. Churchyard burials are still not uncommon, and parishioners still have a common law right to be buried in the parish churchyard if there is space available. Such burials are regulated by various ecclesiastical measures.'

The Local Government Act 1972 provides that the following authorities shall be burial authorities:
  1. District Councils
  2. London Borough Councils
  3. The Common Council of the City of London
  4. Parish Councils
  5. Community Councils (Wales)
  6. Parish Meetings (of parishes having no Parish Councils)

However, coverage has been restricted to the London Boroughs, Metropolitan Districts, Non-Metropolitan Districts in England and Wales. To make the study fully comprehensive would have required returns from some 10,000 parish councils.

The intention of the survey is to provide basic information, particularly on levels of charges, to local authorities in an area of activity for which few comparative data are published.

2001-02 Statistics

Returns were received from 313 authorities, a response rate of 83%. However, 48 authorities submitted 'nil' returns having delegated control of cemeteries to parish councils.

Expenditure on employees accounts for 24.8% of gross expenditure. This is mainly as a result of authorities contracting out elements of their cemeteries service to the private sector. More authorities are moving towards the introduction of economic charges for burial of the dead and a greater proportion of expenditure is now being recovered from fees and charges, 55.8% in 2001-02.

Tables 1 and 4 overleaf reflect the total local authority expenditure and income on cemeteries since 1997-98. Table 1 also provides an indication of a general trend to fund a greater proportion of expenditure from fees and charges. Users should note that the figures have been 'grossed' up to take account of non responding authorities for each year represented in the table, therefore caution should be used when comparing figures with those shown in previous years' publications.

Table 1 summarises trends in expenditure and income over the past 5 years:

Expenditure and Income 1997-98 to 2001-02.
There is however a very wide dispersion in the charges made by local authorities, as illustrated in Tables 2 and 3 below which would suggest that for most authorities the cost of cemetery services is dependent on particular local circumstances.

Fees and Charges 2001-02.
The net cost to the public (including Capital Charges) in 2001-02 was 1.00 for every man, woman and child, the cost in Wales being substantially higher than in other areas.

Net Expenditure per Head 2001-02.
How Expenditure on Cemeteries was Financed.
Subjective Analysis of Expenditure (excluding capital charges).

February 2003

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