Funeral costs continue to rise in the UK

According to the latest ‘Cost of Dying’ Report by SunLife, the average cost of a funeral in the UK has increased by 3.4% since last year to £4,417.

Cost of Dying UK Report 2020

How much does a funeral cost in the UK?

SunLife’s annual Cost of Dying Report for 2020 shows that the average cost of a UK funeral is £4,417, a 3.4 per cent increase from the previous year. It also shows that the total cost of dying - including the funeral, plus extras like the send-off and professional fees – was £9,493, an all-time high.

SunLife has been tracking funeral costs in their annual ‘Cost of Dying’ reports since 2007. For their 2020 report, they surveyed 1,503 UK adults online who were responsible for planning a funeral and administering an estate in the last four years, as well as 100 funeral directors by telephone across ten UK regions.

According to the report, burial is still the most expensive send-off with costs averaging £4,975 in the UK. Meanwhile cremations cost £3,858 on average, while direct cremation (a cremation with no funeral service) is still the most affordable option at £1,626 on average.

In 2019, only 23 per cent of the funerals organised were burials (down 4 percent since 2018), while 77 per cent of them were cremations.

What is the average cost of a funeral by UK region?

According to the findings, where you live in the UK can make a big difference in the cost of a funeral. Unsurprisingly, London has the highest average funeral cost in the country at £5,963, 35 per cent more than the national average. London is followed by the South West & West at £4,881 and Yorkshire & The Humber at £4,656. The North West has the cheapest average funeral cost, coming in at £3,816.

Whilst the average funeral cost increased by 3.4 per cent in the last year, residents in the Midlands and Wales faced the largest annual funeral cost rises of 9.6 per cent and 9.4 per cent, respectively.

The main reason behind the differences in funeral prices is predominantly down to the average cost of burials. In 2019, it cost an average of £7,635 to be buried in London, while the cost is lowest in Northern Ireland at £3,507. The price of cremations also went up in 7 out of 10 regions in the UK, with the South West overtaking London as the most expensive area at £4,365.

Will funeral prices continue to rise in the UK?

Funeral costs may be at an all-time high, but the rate at which they’re going up seems to be slowing, according to the findings. The annual growth rate of funeral costs has gone down by 28 per cent since 2018. It’s also below the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7 per cent over the past 15 years.

SunLife have predicted that if prices continue to rise at the same rate as they have since 2004, the average cost of a funeral could reach £5,285 by 2024.

On the findings of the report, Ian Atkinson, Marketing Director at SunLife, said: “Some people do not like the thought of not having a service in a crematorium, thinking perhaps it is not a ‘proper’ send-off, but this view is changing more and more. We may well start to see more and more people having direct cremations in the future as people realise how much cheaper they are and how they’re able to have the complete flexibility to have a personal service of their own wherever they wish. 

“The cost of direct cremations is also falling, and the main reasons could be the rise in competition and families looking for a good low-cost funeral option. Funeral directors are responding to changes in consumer demand, with more customers shopping around and looking for a good lower-cost option.”

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Cost of Dying Report 2020 (SunLife)

Image: Getty Images

Publication date: 14 January 2020