AFTER the death of a loved one, the last thing families want to face is a hefty funeral bill which will leave them in debt.

Yet, this is an ever-increasing situation.

In Torfaen, an increasing number of people have chosen to have loved ones buried in shared public graves as they cannot afford a private grave and full funeral service.

Previously, Torfaen council reported having one or two public health burials each year.

But since April of this year, there have already been three.

The growing problem has sparked Torfaen council to launch a new service – The Torfaen Funeral Service – providing a basic funeral service for a fixed price of £1,300, compared to the UK average costs of £3,500 - £4,000.

Run in partnership with Newport-based funeral director Michael G Ryan Son & Daughters Ltd, it offers Torfaen residents a funeral service at around half the national average cost.

The council does not take any income from the service provided by the funeral director, however, normal cemetery fees still apply.

Cllr Fiona Cross, executive member for the environment, said: “Sadly funeral poverty is a growing problem across the UK and here in Torfaen we are seeing an increase in people burying their loved ones in shared public graves as they cannot afford the costs associated with a private grave and full funeral service.

“Of course nothing can replace a lost loved one but our new service will at least help to ease some of the financial pressures associated with someone’s passing, and allow residents the option of a basic but dignified funeral at a significantly lower cost.”

The service is designed to give residents the option of a basic, but professional and dignified funeral service.

The leader of Torfaen council, Cllr Anthony Hunt, added: “Last year we removed all fees for child burials and this new service is another step towards tackling funeral poverty in Torfaen.”

While the service is good news for people in Torfaen, Newport, Monmouthshire, and Caerphilly councils have said they have no plans of introducing a similar service.

According to Michael G Ryan Son & Daughters Ltd, the average funeral cost in the area is around £3,000 to £3,500, with the lowest at around £2,000.

The average cost of a funeral in the UK in 2016 was £3,675, a reduction of £27 on the 2015 figure, according to a report by Royal London.

However, the average cost of a burial funeral was £4,136 last year, up from £4,110 in 2015.

In Cwmbran, the average cremation cost £3,166 in 2016, with the average burial £3,831, according to Royal London’s report.

The effect of these costs is that an increasing number of people are having to launch online fundraising appeals, or even sell possessions, to meet the fees.

In January 2017, JustGiving revealed statistics which suggested that the amount of people crowdfunding for funerals increased between January and September 2016.

One of those was Teresa Hart, 41, of Trevethin, Pontypool, who was left with a bill of £4,800 when her fiancé, 33-year-old Gaetano Esposito, died unexpectedly in May.

The mother-of-two said said she chose the cheapest funeral possible, and called the prices quoted “ridiculous”.

“It is hard enough losing someone, let alone burying them and facing the financial costs,” said Ms Hart, who said she still owes some money for the funeral.

“You need all the help you can get at that time.

“We looked into getting a funeral grant from social security but we did not meet the criteria.

“There was a time when we were worried that the funeral wasn’t going to go ahead.”

Ms Hart raised around £1,000 by selling gold jewellery to a pawnbroker’s shop, which she intends to buy back.

A further sum of around £1,200 was raised on a GoFundMe page which she set up.

Elizabeth Gallear, 63, of Baldwin Street, Newport, was left with funeral costs of around £3,500 when her father, Thomas Lloyd, died in January.

Struggling with the costs, she too launched a GoFundMe page, which helped to raise around £400.

The Royal Artillery were able to offer her help with the rest of the costs, as Mr Lloyd had served in the Second World War.

“I think the prices are way over the top,” she said.

“When my mother died, my father paid for a plot of land to have her buried.

“Then I had to pay £1,025 just to have my father buried in the same piece of ground.”

Ms Gallear said she welcomed Torfaen council’s low cost service initiative.

“There are a lot of people like me who have got very little,” she added. “It is not a situation that anybody wants to be in.”

Torfaen council’s initiative follows a similar service launched by the Cardiff council.

But Newport, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly councils have said there are no plans to follow suit.

Nobody No one was available from Blaenau Gwent council to say if similar plans are being pursued.

Further details of The Torfaen Funeral Service can be found at or by contacting Michael G Ryan Son & Daughters Ltd on 0800 093 4746 or via