30 January 2020

Opaque funeral costs under scrutiny

3 min read

Meera Khanna, Consumer PR Manager
Meera Khanna

Corporate PR Manager - Protection


Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert at Royal London comments on the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) working papers as part of their market investigation into the funeral sector.

“Rising funeral costs have forced thousands of grieving families into debt so we welcome the CMA shining a spotlight on the issue. The evidence shows that very few people compare prices or get quotes from more than one funeral director when arranging a funeral. With three quarters of deaths happening in medical or care institutions, we want impartial information on financial support and guidance to be available at hospitals, hospices and care homes.

“The costs involved in arranging a funeral are also opaque, so we are calling on the industry to make their pricing clear and transparent to ensure those arranging a funeral fully understand the options available.”


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The Royal London National Funeral Cost Index 2019 found:

A basic funeral costs £3,785 on average;
Funeral debt in the UK is at £147 million;
Individual debt is at an all-time high with people taking on an average debt of £1,990 to pay for a funeral, which is a 14% increase from the previous year (£1,744 in 2018)

Royal London’s latest research on public health funerals found:

  • £6.3m was spent on public health funerals in 2018/19 by councils in the UK;
  • Some local councils do not allow families to attend the funeral, return ashes to families or charge bereaved families for ashes to be returned;
  • We are calling for legislation on minimum standards for public health funerals. Local councils in the UK should return ashes to traceable families free of charge if requested and should allow family members to attend a public health funeral.

Funeral Expenses Benefit - The Government is set to increase the Funeral Expenses Payment benefit, which has remained at £700 for 17 years, in Spring this year. While the long overdue increase is welcomed, Royal London wants the Government to commit to annual increases of the benefit if it really wants to have an impact and help those struggling with funeral poverty.

For further information please contact:

Meera Khanna, Corporate PR Manager - Protection

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life insurance, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £139 billion, 8.6 million policies in force and 4,348 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2020.