Royal London comments on new International Longevity Centre report
20 April 2015
Commenting on ‘The Funeral Time Bomb’ report, published today by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), Simon Cox, a funeral cost expert at Royal London Group said:
“This new report is spot on. It gathers insight from a broad range of sources - including Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index - and confirms, yet again, what numerous experts have been saying for many years: the cost of a funeral is rising and drawing many people into debt. Royal London’s own study in October last year found 109,000 UK adults live with funeral debts passed on from the deceased – on an individual basis the average debt is £1,305, and collectively this equates to £142m across the UK.
“We believe a fundamental review of the ‘Social Fund Funeral Payment’ system (the UK’s funeral state safety net) is required - it is incredibly important but increasingly inadequate. For example, its cap of £700 (designed to meet ‘other funeral expenses’) isn’t index-linked to inflation or adjusted to reflect current UK living costs; it also asks bereaved relatives to commit to significant funeral costs when they have no idea if they will qualify for a payment or how much it might be.
“The International Longevity Centre is right to refer to the issue as a ‘time bomb’. The combination of rising funeral costs, rising number of deaths, plus an inadequate state safety net will not only continue to drive poverty, but also means we are likely to see a rise in the usage of Public Health Funerals - with haunting echoes from Victorian times. We foresee an increasingly polarised society divided between those who can and those who can’t afford a funeral – a society willing to take on significant debt to pay for a decent funeral.”
- ENDS -
Notes to Editors
- Read the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index at: www.royallondon.com/Documents/PDFs/Reports/2758_Royal_London_Funeral_poverty_report.pdf
- The level of funeral debt is calculated by multiplying the number of people who struggled to meet funeral costs by the average debt taken on (£1,304.95). This totals £142,927,285.
- Among those who arranged a funeral in the past five years: one in five (22%) people said the deceased left no financial provision for the funeral; over half (55%) agree there’s not enough financial support available to bereaved families; 37% of people admitted they wouldn’t mind a Public Health Funeral if it meant their family could avoid debt. Source: Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index (Oct 2014).
- Royal London National Funeral Cost Index comprises quantitative research conducted by YouGov, and data collected from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM). The research was conducted from 14-22 August 2014. Full methodology available at link in note 2 above.
For further information please contact:
Nancy Baynes, PR Manager in Royal London’s Group External Communications Team: 020 7506 6585 / 07919 170524 firstname.lastname@example.org
About Royal London:
Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK with Group funds under management of £82.3bn. Group businesses serve around 5.3m customers and employ 2,823 people (figures quoted are as at 31 Dec 2014). The Group is currently moving all of its UK businesses under a new version of the Royal London brand (Scottish Provident and Bright Grey will rebrand in 2015).