FIGURES have revealed a sharp rise in the number of publicly-funded funerals in Barrow.

Public health funerals - so-called paupers' funerals - doubled in number between the financial years 2016/17 and 2017/18, according to new statistics revealed through a freedom of information request.

There were seven paupers' funerals in 2017/18, twice the number recorded in each of the three previous years (three).

Of these seven funerals, five were paid for by the local authority, costing Barrow Borough Council almost £8,000 over the year. The others were paid for by "other means".

The funerals - burials or cremations - are for those with no next of kin or family able to pay.

Canon Gary Cregeen, team rector of south Barrow, said he was saddened to hear about the rise.

"It is tragic that this is the case in modern society.

"We need to pull together and think about the kind of society we are creating.

"It is an indictment of our social media age that we have all these friends online but we do not make personal connections."

He said he conducts public health funerals in the same way as any other funeral.

The canon said: "When we conduct these kinds of funerals it is very sad when few or no people turn up.

"But I always go about it the same as any other funeral, gathering information about the life of the person as best I can."

Since the end of April this year there have been two paupers' funerals.

It comes after Barrow was revealed to be have the most expensive publicly owned crematorium in the UK.

While the figure spiked in Barrow, the number of public health funerals hit a seven year low in South Lakeland in 2017, when there were zero recorded.

Councils in the UK spend £4m a year on nearly 4,000 burials.

National figures said the average cost of a private funeral had doubled between 2007 and 2017, standing at around £4,000.