The average cost of a funeral has increased once again to £4,184, SunLife’s 2021 Cost of Dying Report revealed today. Sadly, the number of funerals has also increased in recent months, with the effects of COVID-19 palpably felt right across the country. But funerals, aside from the emotional toll which can be created, also prove a financial burden for many families.
Of those that do, 34 percent do not leave enough to actually cover the full cost required.
The Cost of Dying report also examined the funeral costs in different regions of the UK, revealing some may be paying more on average than others.
London remains the most expensive place to die, with costs in the capital set at £5,235 on average.
But, for the first time ever, funerals in the South East now cost almost as much as those in London, at £5,007.
Indeed, other regions have also seen significant rises in average costs, including North West England, Scotland and the Midlands which stand at £3,785, £4,064 and £4,488 respectively.
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But at the other end of the spectrum, the cheapest place to die remains in Northern Ireland.
This follows a 7.4 percent drop in costs, meaning the average price currently stands at £3,222.
The North and Wales are also cheap places to pass away, but average funeral costs also dropped in Yorkshire, the South West and the North East.
Where have funeral costs risen in the UK?
- South East and East of England +9.8 percent
- Scotland +5.7 percent
- North West England +5.7 percent
- East and West Midlands +3.9 percent
- London +3.4 percent
- Wales +0.4 percent
Where have funeral prices dropped in the UK?
- Northern Ireland -7.4 percent
- Yorkshire and the Humber -3.6 percent
- South West England -2.4 percent
- North East England -1.8 percent
The report found the total cost of dying currently stands at £9,263, an increase of 0.8 percent from the previous report.
This includes the average cost of a basic funeral, alongside any optional extras such as a send-off and professional fees.
Professional fees were found to make up a significant part of the cost of dying at 27.5 percent, but these have fallen by 8.1 percent since 2019.
Financial burdens, however, remain a particular preoccupation for many families.
Of those who experienced financial problems, the report found 25 percent used a credit card, 17 percent had to sell belongings to cover costs, and 13 percent were required to take out a loan.
As a result, then, SunLife has urged people to discuss their finances before they pass away, and ensure they have provisions in place where possible.
Justin Cole, Director at SunLife, said: “We all know that death is inevitable at some point, but leaving debt and emotional stress behind for our loved ones isn’t, it is really important that we start talking about it.
“Most of us do have a pretty good idea about what we want for our funeral – and most of us want to keep cost down – so if people spoke about their wishes more, it is likely the number of direct cremations would rise and the overall cost of funerals would fall.
“Most of us would be happy with a direct cremation or want our loved ones to spend ‘as little money as possible’ so if we talked about things more, not only would be all get the send-off we want, but we might save quite a bit of money too.
“The other benefit of speaking to loved ones about what you want is that you can make the funeral really personal – and by having a direct cremation, you can also free some cash to spend on those ‘personal touches’ that matter most.”
The Cost of Dying Report also found COVID-19 had an effect on direct cremations being undertaken.
With social distancing, lockdowns and quarantine, direct cremation has proved the most practical option.
Between February and July 2020, direct cremations accounted for 25 percent of funerals, rising from the three percent recorded in 2019.