Rising funeral costs bring surge in direct cremations
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The UK is facing a “cost of dying crisis”, with the price of a basic funeral rising by 4.7 per cent to £4,141 in 2023, according to research from insurance firm SunLife.

Factor in other services, such as burial or cremation fees, flowers, a celebrant, a wake, a mid-range coffin and estate administration, and the average funeral outlay reaches £9,658.

Sunlife’s 20th annual report on the cost of dying has identified rapid price inflation since it was first published in 2004. Back then a basic funeral cost £1,835, with the recent surge in costs now “pushing families into debt and impacting their mental and physical wellbeing”.

The data also showed that while 70 per cent of people make provision for their funeral before they die, many do not set aside enough money; with only 43 per cent leaving adequate funds to fully cover the costs.

“This lack of provision is leaving those left behind with an average bill of £1,872 – which, in a cost of living crisis, is causing huge issues for millions of families,” the report adds.

Rising prices are also leading to a surge in the number of direct cremations – a no-frills option which does not include a service and is carried out without family and friends present.

The report notes that, in 2023, 20 per cent of funerals were direct cremations, up from just 3 per cent in 2019. These funerals represent a substantial saving for families, with their average price falling slightly last year compared to 2022 (from £1,511 to £1,498).

Sunlife added: “The number of direct cremations swelled during the pandemic – out of necessity – but they have continued to grow in popularity even in the years after Covid-19 restrictions.”  

The report’s research was based on interviews with more than 1,500 families and 100 funeral directors across the UK.

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