ARGYLL and Bute Council is set to raise its age restriction for free cremations and burials to all those aged under 18.

Councillors will debate the subject today (Thursday) after guidance from the Scottish Government and COSLA stated that the age limit had to be raised.

The council currently does not charge for the cremation or burial of a loved one who has died aged under 16.

Funding totalling £310,000, allocated according to the population of young people, is to be made available to local authorities in view of the changes, which are expected to be introduced next month.

A report by executive director of development and infrastructure Pippa Milne, ahead of today’s full council meeting, says: “It is recommended that Members agreed to this change to the fees and charges schedule.

“Currently, Argyll and Bute Council do not charge burial and cremation fees to children under the age of 16.

“The revised guidance from COSLA and Scottish Government has raised this age to children and young people under 18.

“There is agreement that the Scottish Government is providing funding to local authorities and an expectation that local policy and practice changes will be implemented by October 2018.

“Funding to support the implementation of the agreement will be provided by the Scottish Government.

“Funding will be available to support policy change rather than reimburse local authorities and private providers on the actual costs incurred. The funding will not include any funding to funeral directors to remove their fees.

“Financial support of £310,000 per annum to Scottish local authorities has been agreed with COSLA leaders. The distribution to local authorities will be determined by the population of 0-18-year olds in each local authority area.

“This was agreed at the Settlement and Distribution Group (SDG) meeting between the Scottish Government and COSLA.”

An appendix to the report states that local authorities must submit details of how many child burial and cremations are carried out on an annual basis.