Research and Analytics


CIPFA Cemeteries Statistics

November 2005

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 Institute's Technical Information Services 'Environmental Services' information stream based at
''The Church of England dominated the provision of space for burial until the early nineteenth century. Dissatisfaction with the control of the Church over this provision, and with conditions in often overcrowded, unhygienic churchyards provoked calls for change in the first half of the nineteenth century. From the 1820s private sector cemetery companies began to be established. They used the sale of shares to finance the laying out of new, often extensive and attractively landscaped, sites on the periphery of towns. By 1850, in many places, the Church had lost its virtual monopoly on burial provision. Legislation passed during the 1850s permitted new cemeteries to be established by local burial boards, with funds raised through the local rates, and private sector involvement in cemetery establishment declined. Private cemeteries are still operated under the Cemeteries Clauses Act 1847 but almost all the other Acts were repealed by the Local Government Act 1972. It is not uncommon for there to be churchyard burials and parishioners still have a common law right to be buried in the parish churchyard if there is space available.'
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 in this publication has been restricted to London Boroughs, Metropolitan Districts, Unitary Authorities and 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.

2004-05 Statistics

Returns were received from 302 authorities, a response rate of 80%. However, 57 authorities submitted 'nil' returns having delegated control of cemeteries to parish councils.

Implications of FRS17

The full implementation of Financial Reporting Standard FRS17 was introduced to the Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom, A Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) and thus CIPFA's Best Value Accounting Code of Practice (BVACOP) from 1 April 2003. This resulted in a significant change in the way of accounting for retirement benefits. Under the previous arrangements the amount of retirement benefit expenditure recognised was the employer's contribution to the pension fund or in the case of an unfunded scheme payments to pensioners for whom the employer had direct responsibility. This meant that the revenue account did not reflect the true economic cost of pension benefits earned by employees in the year. The new FRS17 approach seeks to measure the true economic cost of the pension benefit earned by employees in the year and recognises this as the expenditure for the year.

99 Authorities have reported data on a pre-FRS17 basis. These authorities have been highlighted with a '' in the main tables, and are listed below:
  • Greenwich
  • Islington
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Wandsworth
  • Westminster
  • Brent
  • Enfield
  • Kingston-upon-Thames
  • Merton
  • Richmond-upon-Thames
  • Bury
  • Salford
  • Stockport
  • Liverpool
  • St Helens
  • Sefton
  • Barnsley
  • Rotherham
  • Sunderland
  • Dudley
  • Calderdale
  • Leeds
  • Wakefield
  • Bristol
  • Isle of Wight
  • Kingston-upon-Hull
  • Leicester
  • Milton Keynes
  • North Somerset
  • Nottingham
  • Peterborough
  • Plymouth
  • Poole
  • Portsmouth
  • Reading
  • Southend-on-Sea
  • Thurrock
  • Torbay
  • Cambridge
  • Restormel
  • Barrow-in-Furness
  • Eden
  • Amber Valley
  • Rother
  • Chelmsford
  • Colchester
  • Harlow
  • Tendring
  • Gloucester
  • East Hampshire
  • Eastleigh
  • Fareham
  • Havant
  • New Forest
  • Rushmoor
  • Hertsmere
  • Dartford
  • Dover
  • Shepway
  • Tonbridge and Malling
  • Burnley
  • Preston
  • Ribble Valley
  • Melton
  • Harrogate
  • Corby
  • Kettering
  • Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • Castle Morpeth
  • Ashfield
  • Bassetlaw
  • Broxtowe
  • Newark and Sherwood
  • Rushcliffe
  • Oxford
  • South Oxfordshire
  • Shrewsbury and Atcham
  • Sedgemoor
  • Cannock Chase
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme
  • Stafford
  • Staffordshire Moorlands
  • Ipswich
  • St Edmundsbury
  • Elmbridge
  • Epsom and Ewell
  • Guildford
  • Mole Valley
  • Runnymede
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth
  • Adur
  • Crawley
  • Cardiff
  • Conwy
  • Newport
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Powys
  • Torfean
  • Wrexham

Impact of FRS17 on Net Expenditure
Table 1 shows the percentage difference between FRS17 and Pre-FRS17 figures based on the authorities that have been able to provide figures on a FRS17 basis. The impact was small, as net expenditure on a FRS17 basis was 1.2% lower than pre-FRS17 expenditure. Users of these statistics must be mindful of the accounting basis used when making comparisons between data.


Expenditure on employees accounts for 30% of gross expenditure, (table 6). 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, almost 60% in 2004-05. This is reflected in table 2 which shows local authority expenditure and income on cemeteries since 2000-01. 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 2 summarises trends in expenditure and income over the past 5 years:

Expenditure and Income 2000-01 to 2004-05
Figure 1, shows the five-year trend of gross expenditure per interment, it has been growing steadily throughout this period with a 22% increase in the last five years and a 3% increase since 2003-04.

Gross expenditure per interment rises steadily
There is however a very wide dispersion in the charges made by local authorities, as illustrated in Tables 3 and 4 below, which would suggest that for most authorities the cost of cemetery services is dependent on local circumstances.

Fees and Charges as at 1 April 2005
Table 4 shows, the net cost to the public (including Capital Charges) in 2004-05 was 1.00 for every man, woman and child, the cost in Wales being substantially higher than in other areas.

Net Expenditure Per Head 2004-05 (including Capital Charges)
How Expenditure on Cemeteries was Financed (excluding capital charges)
Subjective Analysis of Expenditure (excluding capital charges)
Fees and Charges
Summary: Cemeteries 2004-05 Actuals

November 2005

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