FAMILIES in Torfaen will now have to pay more to bury their loved ones after cemetery fees were increased by five per cent.

The decision was approved by local authority cabinet members as one of nine income-generating proposals to tackle a £9 million funding shortfall.

The expectation is that the combined fee increases will raise £261,000 in total.

The council controls four cemeteries: Llwncelyn Cemetery, Blaenavon Cemetery, Panteg Cemetery and Cwmbran Cemetery.

From April 1 an exclusive right of burial (ERB), or the right to be buried in a certain grave space, will now cost £33 more (£712.95) for a grave and £16.95 more ( £355) for a cremated remains section.

Those wanting to open or re-open a five-foot or seven-foot grave will now pay £964, up from £919, and £1,150, up from £1,096, respectively.

The cost of graveside memorials will also rise, with kerb set memorials increasing from £339 to £355.95 and a meadow vase and plaque costing £408.45, up from £389.

The hire of the chapel at Panteg cemetery will rise from £131 to £137.55, while meadow burials - a natural burial without a memorial - will now go up from £1,556 to £1,633.8.

A bench plaque at Llwncelyn cemetery will now cost £204.75, up from £195.

Child burial fees will remain unaffected after Torfaen opted to scrap the charges altogether in December 2016.

Initially the council had considered an 8 per cent hike to cemetery fees but scrutiny members said they were unable to support such a rise.

Instead a three per cent increase was suggested, with cabinet members deciding a five per cent rise struck "an appropriate balance".

A council report said: “The loss of income in moving from eight per cent to three per cent would be around £15,000 and would have to be made up through either increasing charges elsewhere or further reductions."

Torfaen council will now need to address a shortfall £9,000 in settling on the five per cent rise.

A spokesman for the council said that there "no easy decisions" in this year's budget and that fees and charges had to be increased in order to raise income and protect "vital" services.

“As always, the cabinet welcomed the views of the scrutiny committee on the issue of burial costs and believe a compromise position of a 5 per cent increase rather than the original 8 per cent proposal strikes an appropriate balance - although this does mean we need to find an additional £9,000 saving somewhere else," he said.

“The council is concerned with the rising issue of funeral poverty, which is why we launched the Torfaen Funeral Service earlier this year to provide people with a funeral at around half the national average cost.

"We were also one of the first councils in Wales to scrap charges for the burial of children. While they may offer little comfort to those who have lost loved ones, we hope these measures will go some way to ease the associated financial pressures.”