Funeral costs rise by four times the rate of inflation
Written on 5 October 2015
Funeral prices in the UK have gone up nearly as fast as house prices since 1980, taking the cost of an average ‘basic’ funeral to £3,702 in 2015. Last year the figure stood at £3,562.
Average cremation costs have risen by 4.2% in the last year to £3,294 while average burial costs are up 3.7% to £4,110, according to research by Royal London.
In many cases the true cost of a funeral is even higher as the ‘basic’ funeral figures don’t include extras such as flowers, cars and venue hire.
As rises in funeral costs continue to outstrip inflation, more than one in 10 people (13%) now struggle to pay for a funeral. Those affected find themselves with average funeral debts of £1,318.
“Our study shows people are striving to meet funeral price hikes which they have little control over. Given the stressful situation, shopping around for a funeral is often not an option. Instead people are coping by cutting back on non-essentials if possible and reconsidering how loved ones are buried,” says Simon Cox, a funeral cost expert at Royal London.
The research also found that most people would prefer a low-cost approach to their own funeral. Over a third wants their families to spend “as little as possible” and to “save the money for the family”.
Our guide Paying for a funeral has tips on ways to keep down the cost of a funeral and where to go for financial help.
Funeral costs are a postcode lottery
The cost of a funeral varies hugely depending on where you are in the UK. Funerals range from £2,976 for a cremation in Greenock to £7,216 for a burial in Beckenham, Kent, says the study.
The table below shows how the average funeral cost varies by region across the UK.
|Region||Average cost 2014||Average cost 2015|
|Yorkshire & Humberside||£3,559||£3,716|
|East of England||£3,516||£3,668|
|South East England||£3,534||£3,654|
|North West England||£3,498||£3,651|
|North East England||£3,495||£3,624|
|South West England||£3,416||£3,536|
Source: Royal London National Funeral Cost Index surveys 2015
Funeral prices will continue to rise
The outlook for funeral prices is for further rises because of “underlying systematic factors”, says Royal London. These include pressure on local authority funding, a shortage of burial plots and new private crematoria pushing up prices.
“Vulnerable, bereaved people are taking on increased debt and we predict this problem will worsen if steps are not taken to tackle the many, persistent causes driving up the cost of funerals,” said Mr Cox.
Royal London is calling on policymakers to look at the underlying issues causing the cost of funerals to rise. It also wants a full review of the Social Fund – a government fund which provides financial help towards the cost of funerals for those on a low income.
“It’s worrying to see that funeral costs are continuing to rise and that families on modest incomes are finding it increasingly unaffordable to give a decent send-off to their loved ones. This isn’t a problem that is going to go away on its own – we need to have a national conversation about how we address the rising cost of funeral services and how we say goodbye to those who are close to us. The government needs to start acting on this issue before it is too late,” says Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields.