NEW fees for weddings and
funerals in churches came into force on 1 January.
The 40-per-cent rise in fees
10 February 2012) was introduced to "standardise" fees and stop
some churches from charging for extras such as lighting. PCCs are
still able to charge extra fees for heating, the services of a
verger, the choir and organist, and flowers.
The statutory fee for a
funeral service has risen from £102 to £160, and the fee for a
marriage service from £262 to £381.
Also changed under the Fees
Measure is the way that the fees are distributed. A portion will go
to the PCC, as before, but the incumbent's fee has now become the
Diocesan Board of Finance fee.
A priest can still decide to
waive fees, but only on the grounds of "clear financial hardship".
The Archbishops' Council has urged an end to the practice in some
churches of waiving fees for long-standing members of the
costs. The Local Government Association has reported a
year-on-year increase in the number of "paupers' funerals", where
the deceased has no next of kin, or relatives refuse to pay. Local
authorities in England and Wales paid for nearly 3000 funerals in
Joan Walley, the Labour MP for Stoke on Trent North, has called
on the Government to raise its funeral payment for those on low
incomes. Since 2003, it has been set at less than £1200, but the
average cost of a funeral now is about £2700.