Manchester families are facing a £300 increase in the cost of stone-settings, bringing the price close to £2,000.
The rise is at the behest of the North Manchester Jewish Cemeteries Trust, which insists that the additional income is vital to maintaining local cemeteries.
A Manchester stone-setting currently costs around £1,600. Bereaved families will be asked to pay an extra £300 for an “unveiling levy”, according to a letter sent to synagogues by the trust.
The trust points out that, unlike in London, families pay no annual charge for grave upkeep in Manchester. As a result, there has been a dearth of funding to support older cemeteries such as Blackley and Crumpsall, which are in a state of disrepair.
Trust treasurer Stephen Niman said the levy was one of a number of essential measures to address the problem.
“We are trying to ensure there is a commnunity-wide responsibility in place that will support cemeteries for years to come. We are also considering asking people to make regular contributions for loved ones buried in cemeteries.”
Established in September on a trial basis, the trust is overseeing the upkeep of Manchester’s Jewish cemeteries. It follows a successful initiative by the Rainsough Charitable Trust, which raised hundreds of thousands of pounds from individuals to renovate its burial ground. However, some shuls have refused to sign up to the trust until its plans are more fully outlined.
At Crowley Memorials — which will be asked to collect the levy from customers as part of stonemason costs — Kevin Crowley said Jewish cemeteries were in difficulty because “council burial grounds can apply to government to get maintenance funding, but Jewish cemeteries are private, so it is left up to the community”.