Barnet Council has been forced into a U-turn over “cruel” proposals to impose an above inflation hike on the cost of burying babies and toddlers.

The authority had planned to raise the cost of burying children under three years old by an inflation-busting ten per cent as part of its bid to keep council tax low in the next financial year.

That would have seen the cost of burying a baby in a half-size, Class A grave to £1,760.

However, councillor Brian Coleman told officers to withdraw the proposed increase from the draft budget on Monday after it was brought to his attention by the Times Series.

He said council officers had failed to alert him to the proposal and that he will now consider what the increase will be.

“I think the answer will probably be an inflation-linked charge,” he added.

Councillor Jack Cohen, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, branded the proposal as “cruel” and suggested it reflected a lack of close scrutiny of the budget process.

“It really is a shocking indictment that this was allowed to go through in the first place,” he said.

“I’m pleased they’re having a rethink about this cruel proposal but what worries me is how many other things might be lurking around that cabinet members haven’t looked at properly.

“They should be looking carefully at reports. They’re in their names after all and plenty of other people noticed this.”

A raft of above-inflation service charge increases have been proposed in the council’s draft budget and will come into effect in April if approved.

Others include pest control, which will increase by between 6.85 per cent for rats and 7.5 per cent for bed bugs, and 6 per cent for residents’ parking permits.

However, the rise in council tax will be held down to 2.81 per cent, while a survey by the Local Government Association this week suggested that the average increase in England would be 3.5 per cent.