FUNERAL costs have increased more in Inverclyde than anywhere else in Scotland in the past year - with burial fees alone up by almost 60 per cent.

A new study by Citizens Advice has revealed that cremation charges locally also rose at a greater rate than in any other part of the country during 2018 - up 14 per cent.

Despite the price hikes, Inverclyde still remains one of the cheapest places in Scotland for funerals.

The average cost of a burial last year was £1,800 - £661 more than in 2017 - while cremation fees went up £95.30 to £681.

Inverclyde Council officials say investment of around £1.6 million upgrading equipment at Greenock Crematorium accounts for some of the price hike.

Rising funeral costs and the financial strain on the bereaved have become a hot topic throughout the UK in recent times.

In May last year, the local authority tried to combat that by introducing a £375 'simple' funeral.

A council spokesman said: "Inverclyde has been regularly one of the lowest cost places in the country for a number of years. "Any increase in costs, no matter how large or small, will significantly impact on the percentage in any one year especially going from a lower starting point. "Despite the headline percentages in this report it shows that the price of a burial in Inverclyde is still less than half the cost of the average basic funeral in Scotland and cremation charges here are still below the Scottish average. "The council has required to invest significantly in its cremation facilities and part of the cost of paying for that comes from increased fees. "The council has also, in recent years, required to examine areas to reduce spending and increase income to balance the budget."

Inverclyde moved 19 places to the seventh most expensive area in the country for burials with an annual increase of 58.1 per cent.

Since 2014, charges have gone up by 93 per cent.

Last year, the Scottish average cost of a burial was £1,535 - £107 more expensive than in 2017.

Inverclyde also tops the table for the largest annual change in cremation fees.

The £681 charge is still £100 cheaper than the national average, with the area ranked 20 out of 27 in the country last year.

According to the study, there were 1,104 deaths locally in 2017 - 100 more than the year before - with five national assistance funerals compared with two in 2016.