Increased competition in the business of death has been forecast to cost Milton Keynes Council up to £130,000 over the next three years.
The council’s bereavement services team reckons that fewer people will choose Crownhill Crematorium for cremations and services because of competition from across the border.
New crematoria have opened in Aylesbury Vale in the last year. Council officers, in budget papers presented to Tuesday’s Budget and Resources Scrutiny Committee, say that is “likely to reduce numbers and income received on cremations undertaken for non Milton Keynes residents at Crownhill.”
The exact impact on MK Council coffers is not yet known, and it has been identified as a “medium risk” to finances. But they have pencilled in a hit of £30,000 this year and £100,000 in the following two years.
Angela Abbott, the council’s lead officer for the budget item, says in the background papers that the “potential pressure is due to the newly built crematorium close to Aylesbury opened in January 2019 by Aylesbury Vale Council.
“Until the premises are better established, the operating impact in MK Council income is uncertain,” but the report adds that in the first quarter of 2019/20 there has been a “small dip” in cremation services.
They think that funeral directors may use the new facility, rather than paying for the services in MK.
MK Council officers say they will continue to operate on a “commercial basis”, maximising the use of both chapels at Crownhill and assessing new areas of income across the service.”
They have been marketing Crownhill’s services as an “attractive venue” to funeral directors close to the new Aylesbury crematorium.
In 2017-28, there were 277 services in Milton Keynes from funeral directors closer to Aylesbury. Council officers are estimating that about half of them will go to the new facilities.
But, they add that Crownhill will “remain as the location of choice for some families as they will want to use the crematorium where their relatives were cremated so the loss of income will be over a period of years rather than all at once.
“The reduction in income due to the new facility will be offset in later years as MK continues to expand its population.”