YORK is an increasingly expensive city in which to live. And it is about to become a more expensive city in which to die.

In what is becoming a yearly belt-tightening exercise as they struggle to balance their budget, city chiefs are to put up the cost of a cremation by over £40, to £536.

That is a daunting sum to find, especially when a family is grieving. Many will find the council's apparent decision to pick on the dying unpalatable.

The position council bosses find themselves in every year, however, is far from enviable.

Because of tight Whitehall controls over local authority spending, there is never enough money to go around.

Each year, the knife cuts a little deeper.

This year, in a budget described by city finance chief Peter Steed as "very tight", the council is to shed 35 jobs. Disabled people are to be charged more for care, by having their discount reduced. The cost of music tuition is to go up, plans to bring in a Safe City Coordinator have been abandoned, and there will be new charges for planning advice and less stress counselling for council employees.

None of that is good news. Disabled people receiving care may well feel particularly hard done by. But the council insists that by combining these measures with general efficiency savings, increased income from car parks and a council tax rise of 4.5 per cent, it will still be able to deliver quality services to those who need them most.

The proof will be in the pudding. It is to be hoped the council will broadly be able to maintain the quality of life of the most vulnerable people in this city, despite the cuts. It is just a shame it couldn't have kept down the cost of dying at the same time.