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The True Cost of Dying – UK Funeral Prices Continue to Soar

With the passing of a loved one, the last thing anyone wants to think about is funeral costs. Unfortunately, with the worrying increase of the cost of dying in the UK, it is more important now than ever to plan for funerals. It’s somewhat of a taboo subject, no one wishes to discuss how they will be sent off once they are deceased. However, recent research suggests that over one-third of the UK population struggle to pay for funerals, even if money was put aside before death. The significance of portraying funeral desires to family and friends has never been so high.

The Cost of Death

Less than fifteen years ago, the average price for a basic funeral was around 1,920. Basic funeral costs have rocketed by 112%, 4.7% in 2018 alone, and now the average cost in the UK is 4,078. The expense for such a funeral includes funeral director fees, cremation or burial fees and minister or celebrant fees. Funeral director fees include the collection of the body, the coffin, the hearse and the care of the deceased. Of course, cheap caskets and funeral services are available but costs alone have risen in the past year by 3.3%, mainly due to an increase in land prices for burials, higher wages for crematorium staff along with gravediggers and the maintenance of crematoriums.

As well as this, bereaved families and friends also need to pay for the send-off and the hiring of a professional to administer the estate. These, added with the basic funeral costs, amount to the total expense of dying. This can now be up to a staggering 9,204, an increase of 122% in the past fifteen years. The send-off, including flower arrangements, order sheets, extra cars, venues and catering for a wake, can total to 2,061. This has risen by 6.9% in the past year.

The final fees, hiring a professional to administer the estate, adds around 30% of the total cost of dying. Despite this, such costs have seen a slight decline between 2017 and 2018, dropping 0.9% to 2,872. If the cost of dying continues to rise the way it has over the past decade, fees could amount to over 10,000 in 2023, reaching more than 13,000 for a basic funeral expenses alone in 2038.

Funeral Planning

With this in mind, it is no surprise that in 2017 the number of funeral plans sold amounted to over 200,000. This is an increase of 54% in the last five years. More people are paying for funerals before passing away, to ease the burden on loved ones and to get the best possible price. Paying for a funeral today means paying today’s costs, even if it’s years before the funeral is to take place.

Recent survey results show that 98% of the population of the UK do not wish for a lavish funeral. Along with this, the survey proved that 31% of respondents want their funerals to be “as cheap as possible”.

62% of those surveyed state they have put money aside for funerals. However, of those who planned ahead, under two-thirds did not save significant funds. This means more than a third of loved ones are having to pay the remaining costs towards various funeral fees. With funeral costs rising 40% since 2011, having a plan is more important than ever.


Of course, such as most expenses, the cost of death varies depending on the region of the UK. For example, in London, the cost of a burial could be up to 7,700. To contrast, the fees for a burial across other parts of the country come in at around 4,600. Funeral expenses can also be reduced or increased conditional to whether a burial is to take place, or whether a cremation is the preferred option. In Britain, 77% of funerals that take place chose cremation. This tends to be the cheaper option, costing an estimated 3,872 in most areas of the country. In the capital, cremation is still lower in cost than burials at around 4,600.

Direct cremations can also help to aid the costs of funerals. This occurs when the body of the deceased is cremated in the days following death, rather than waiting until after the funeral has taken place. This somewhat modern invention is one of the only parts of funeral planning that has decreased in price over the past couple of years. Direct cremations have seen a fall in cost of 6.7%, now amounting to around 1,712. Despite this, research shows that only 2% of UK cremations are direct cremations. This seems to be due to a lack of knowledge of the subject, with 47% of survey respondents who have recently organised a cremation having never heard of it. 19% of those asked said they would have considered direct cremation had they have known about it prior, and almost half would now consider it for their own funeral.

The 40% increase in funeral fees over the past five years isn’t set to stop soon. With the cost of death growing steadily year-on-year, the importance of funeral planning, pre-paid funeral plans and simply talking with loved ones about funeral wishes has never been so vital. The only upside to the situation is that people seem to be taking note – with a 54% increase in funeral plans in the last decade.

Ease the load placed on loved one’s shoulders by planning your funeral, including the potential costs. Although they are notoriously difficult for everyone involved, funerals should be a celebration of life, so don’t let the expenses stop you from giving someone the send-off they deserve.