Funeral expenses rise 3.9% to £3,702

Rising funeral costs
The average cost of a funeral has now hit £3,702, an above-inflation rise of 3.9% or £140 on last year, according to a new survey. Around one in ten people now struggling with funeral expenses, says life insurance and pensions firm Royal London.
Its 2015 National Funeral Cost Index indicates that cremation costs rose by more than burials last year, up by 4.2% to £3,294 compared to 3.7% and £4,110.

The price you pay to say a final goodbye to loved ones also depends on where you live, with a cremation in Greenock costing just £2,976, compared to £7,216 for a burial in Beckenham, Kent.

Simon Cox, a funeral cost expert at Royal London, said: “A loved one’s funeral can be expensive. ‘[It is] a major (and sometimes unexpected) outlay, costing thousands of pounds. The rising cost of an average UK funeral is very concerning; it’s outstripped inflation considerably for many years – almost in line with house price rises, which as we know continue to rise rapidly as demand outstrips supply.”

Funeral costs rose the most in Wales last year – up by 5.2% compared to a rise of just 2.4% in Scotland. On a regional basis, costs rose most in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside, by over 4% in both regions.

Royal London said it is “not surprising” to see funeral debt rising in UK households, with more than one in ten people (13%) now struggling to pay for a funeral. The average debt incurred due to a funeral now stands at £1,318, which is why people are cutting-back when it comes to paying for essential items such as coffins, and optional elements such as flowers, the insurer added.

“The most striking example is coffins: last year’s Index found people spent £1,108 on average, but the 2015 report shows this has dropped to £989, a decrease of 11%,” Royal London stated.

“Our study shows people are striving to meet funeral price hikes, which they have little control over,” Coz said. “Given the stressful situation, shopping around for a funeral is often not an option. Instead people are coping by cutting back on non-essentials if possible, and reconsidering how loved ones are buried.

“The UK funeral system still displays fundamental failings, which we reported last year. Vulnerable bereaved people are taking on increased debt; and we predict this problem will worsen if steps are not taken to tackle the many, persistent causes driving up the cost of funerals.”

Royal London is now calling for the government to “find better outcomes for bereaved UK citizens” including an overhaul of the Social Fund Funeral Payment, which was designed to cover the cost of a basic funeral for people on low incomes where there was no other relative with the means to pay. The Fund now routinely covers just 35% of the cost of a basic funeral.

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