SunLife’s Cost of Dying Report shows that the average cost of a UK funeral in 2018 was £4,271.
It also shows that the total cost of dying in 2018 was £9,204. (This includes the funeral, plus extras like the send-off and professional fees). That’s an all-time high.
In fact, since we started our yearly Cost of Dying Report in 2004, prices have been steadily increasing. And these costs look set to keep going up.
Read on for more about UK funeral prices, how they could affect you, and how you can plan ahead to help cover these costs.
How much does a burial, cremation and direct cremation cost?
|Funeral Type||Average cost (2018)|
A burial is still the most expensive send-off, and direct cremation is still the most affordable option. (The cost of a direct cremation is actually down from 2017, when it would have set you back £1,835.)
What's the average cost of a funeral where I live?
|Area in the UK||Average funeral cost (2018)|
|South East & West||£4,469|
|Yorkshire & The Humber||£4,459|
|East & West Midlands||£4,179|
As you can see, where you live can make a big difference in the cost of a funeral.
The main reason behind the difference in price is down to the average cost of burials. In 2018, it cost an average of £7,538 to be buried in London, while the cost is lowest in Northern Ireland at £3,240.
The price of cremations also went up in 8 out of 10 regions in 2018, with the South West overtaking London as the most expensive area at £4,365.
Why are funeral prices so high?
The cost of a funeral is usually made up of:
|Basic funeral costs||Average cost|
|Funeral director's fees||£2,595|
|Clergy or officiate fees||£159|
And on top of this, there’s the cost of the send-off:
|Additional funeral costs||Average cost|
|Order sheets/service cards||£82|
|Total additional costs:||£2,061|
Along with professional fees, which add another £2,872 on average, these prices make up the total cost of dying: £9,204. This means that the average cost of a basic funeral went up by 4.7% in 2018.
How have funeral costs changed over the years?
Since we started our research in 2004, funeral costs have risen dramatically. If they continue to rise in the same way, the average cost of dying could reach over £10,000 in just three years’ time. So it helps to be prepared.
How can I get help with funeral costs?
With funeral prices being so high, the cost can come as a huge shock to loved ones.
In 2018, only 62% of people had put money aside for their funeral. And not even two thirds of these people had put enough aside to cover the whole funeral. So over a third of families had to make up the shortfall.
If you find yourself organising a funeral and don’t know how you’ll pay for it, there are ways you can get help:
- Speak to the deceased's local council about a Public Health Funeral
- Ask your funeral director for advice, and check if they accept any government/charity benefits that could help you
- See our list of charities that may be able to offer advice and support
- Check if you’re eligible for Funeral Expenses Payment (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or Funeral Support Payment (Scotland)
- Speak to your bank or building society to see if they could settle the funeral bill from the deceased’s bank account
- Get in touch with Citizens Advice to check the benefits you could be entitles to
Read our help with funeral costs article for more guidance.
How do I plan my funeral?
Planning your funeral doesn’t have to be stressful, for you or your family. Here are a few things that can really help take the pressure off:
- Talk to your loved ones about what you want, and what they want. (Only 1% of people we surveyed knew all the funeral wishes of the deceased.)
- Use our Funeral cost calculator to work out how much your ideal funeral would cost in your area.
- Make financial plans to help pay your funeral costs, so your family aren't caught out.
- Plan your perfect send-off, so people know what to do when the time comes.
And if you need help planning someone else’s funeral, here's some useful links to guides and organisations which can provide support and guidance.
Help with planning a funeral:
If you're using a funeral director, they will be able to help with most aspects of planning the funeral. But to help you get started, you can follow our step-by-step guide to funeral planning.
Choosing a funeral director:
Choose a funeral director who is a member of the organisations below. All members have pledged to and must abide by the highest set by the associations. You can search for members on their websites:
- National Association of Funeral Directors
- The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
Or choose from this list of recommended funeral directors, which is updated regularly based on families feedback and experiences.
Arranging a funeral yourself:
You might choose to arrange the funeral without a funeral director. If you do, here are some organisations and links that could help.
- The Natural Death Centre are a charity that gives free, impartial advice. You can call their helpline on 01962 712 690.
- Money Advice Service have a simple stepped guide to arranging a funeral yourself.
Source: Cost of Dying report 2018