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The average funeral costs have increased by 3.4% to £4,417 since last year.
The increase is forcing a lot more grieving families into financial difficulties according to the latest ‘Cost of Dying’ Report by SunLife.
12.5% of all families faced the unenviable prospect of finding the money to pay for the funeral costs of their loved ones.
The report claims that the final celebrations of a loved one‘s life is contributing to debt with over a fifth of families borrowing money from friends and family members to cover funeral costs.
Additionally, a quarter of respondents admitted to paying for the funeral on their credit cards or through loans.
It seems as though regions vary greatly with Londoners facing an average funeral bill of £5,963, a staggering 35% more than the national average.
Whilst the average funeral increased by 3.4% in the last year, residents of the Midlands and Wales faced the largest annual funeral cost rises of 9.6% and 9.4% respectively.
Last year, Royal London published a National Funeral Cost Index. It found that the total amount of funeral debt in the UK has risen to £147m, up 12% from last year.
It estimated around 74,000 bereaved families who have struggled to cover the cost of a funeral in the past year. 27% of those who struggled said they went into debt from credit cards, loans or overdrafts.
20% said they borrowed money from family and friends, with 12% saying they chose a cheaper funeral. The index also found that people on lower incomes are spending much more of their income on a funeral, meaning they’re left worse off than those on higher incomes.
What are the alternatives?
It is only natural to want to give your loved one the ultimate send off. For many, the consensus has been a service, usually in a crematorium followed by burial or cremation.
Overall, 23% of all funerals involved a burial service with 77% ending in cremation.
However, with costs rising and more families spiralling into debt, should we start to stray from the traditional and often expensive funeral pathways?
The report found that the average cost of a basic cremation, including a service was £3,858 once a coffin, service space and funeral car are factored in.
However, direct cremations, whereby the deceased is cremated without a service, fell in price by 5% to £1,626. Loved ones would then have the option to hold a memorial service once the ashes are returned.
Almost half (44%) of all respondents were unaware of this option with 42% happy for this option to be embraced for their own funeral if it meant their loved ones were able to avoid financial stress.
A fifth would also consider this option for their loved ones as it meant they were able to organise original and bespoke memorial services.
Ian Atkinson, at SunLife, commented:
“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.”
Maplebrook Services Limited are proud to be able to offer a cost effective pre-paid funeral plan together with the option of a pre-paid repatriation plan for those wishing a funeral in the UK. For further information, please contact Wayne Barnett F.C.A.