THE cost of dying in Eastleigh is about to shoot up.

Town bosses have approved a hike in prices for burials, cremations and memorials in Eastleigh.

But the move has come under fire and described as a "stealth tax" on residents when they are at their most vulnerable.

The fees were agreed by members of Eastleigh's local area committee and are due to come into effect in January.

Fees for a single depth interment will raise from £982 to £1,012 and the right to scatter ashes going up from £89 to £94.

In February last year, a single depth interment cost £903 meaning an overall increase of £109.

A double depth internment will go up from £1,249 to £1,287 while interning cremated remains will go up to £348 from £330 - a 5.45 per cent increase.

Many relatives also buy 30-year exclusive rights to secure graves from being dug up for use by other families.

According to the plans, those rights will go up from £853 to £880 for plots for adults and from £486 to £500 for plots for cremated remains.

And the fees are doubled if the deceased is not a borough resident - with an exception for those residents who had to move outside the borough for specialist nursing homes or hospital care.

But Leader of the Conservative group on Eastleigh Council, Margaret Atkinson, said: "I totally disagree with this increase - it adds to worry the of whether residents can afford to give their loved ones the burial they wanted.

"It is not something the council should be imposing on them at such a time.

"The council charges one of the highest rates for burial fees in the area and they have been increasing charges at a rate of approx 3 per cent pa over the last few years.

"Each year the Conservative Group has opposed the increase in these charges."

Council leader Keith House defended the move.

He said: “The council sets all of its fees based on a long-standing policy of reducing the burden of funding local services from all council taxpayers.

"That’s why we have managed to reduce council tax in real terms every year for 17 years, despite losing all grant funding from this Conservative government.”

The fee changes hope to achieve an additional three per cent income for the council budget.