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Almost two thirds of people – the most on record – now make some funeral provision as funeral costs continue to soar

Posted on 11 September 2016

SunLife’s annual Cost of Dying research shows that while the cost of dying is the fastest rising of any fixed cost in the UK1 the number of people making at least some funeral provision is the highest on record.

  • If funeral costs had risen with inflation, cost would be £2,540 but is actually £3,897
  • 62% now make some funeral provision – up from 54% in 2009
  • However, a fifth of those don’t leave enough to cover the full cost and 38% leave NOTHING
  • SunLife launches funeral calculator to help people understand the costs

SunLife’s research shows that the cost of a funeral has soared by 5.5% in a single year, averaging £3,897 which is double what it was when SunLife first started tracking funeral prices in 2004. To put this in perspective, if the cost of a funeral had risen in line with the cost of living it would now cost £2,540 2 - £1,357 less than the actual figure.

However, the report also shows that this year, more than three in five (62%) put at least some money aside compared to 59% last year and just over half (54%) in 2009. But, despite a rise in the number of people leaving provision, due to the rising cost of funerals, 19% had not left enough to cover the full amount.

One in seven people (13%) who have organised a funeral in the past 4 years admitted it caused them notable financial concern with the average shortfall standing at £2,334

Graham Jones, director at SunLife said: “We do the Cost of Dying each year to raise awareness of the fact that there is a very real cost associated with death and it has been steadily rising for more than a decade.

“While there are still people not making any provision, the number that do is rising, which is encouraging, but unfortunately, many are still vastly underestimating how much a funeral actually costs.”

This year, SunLife’s research found that 40% of people organising a funeral said it cost more than they expected and more than a third (38%) of those said it cost a lot more. As a result, one in twelve people organising a funeral said they had to cut back or change some of the ‘send-off’ costs they had planned for their loved one:

  • 30% had to cut back on limousines for immediate family
  • 27% on the memorial (headstone, urn, bench etc.)
  • 26% had to make cutbacks to the catering.
  • 17% cut back on flowers
  • 15% had to find a cheaper venue.

SunLife’s research shows that one in seven of those left with a funeral bill after the passing of a loved one found themselves in financial difficulties, forcing:

  • 10% to sell belongings to cover the cost
  • 24% to put the balance on a credit card
  • 10% to take out a loan
  • 18% to borrow money from a friend or relative

On top of the fact that many of us are not leaving money behind, many of us are not making our funeral wishes clear either. In fact, 99% of those organising a funeral did not know all of their loved ones’ wishes with two in five admitting not even knowing if the deceased wanted to be buried or cremated.

Graham Jones concludes : “We all know that death is inevitable, but leaving debt and emotional stress behind for our loved ones is not, so this year we are working alongside Dying Matters to encourage people to talk about dying and start planning for it, both financially and emotionally.

“Together we have launched a range of free online tools to help start that big conversation. As well as www.myperfectsendoff.co.uk – a simple way to record your funeral preferences, we also have a Funeral Calculator to help you work out how much you will need to put aside for your funeral and When Someone Dies, a step by step guide telling you everything you need to do when a loved one passes away.”

Claire Henry, Chief Executive of the Dying Matters Coalition adds: “We are really pleased to be working with SunLife to create a range of useful online tools, calculators and content to help people engage with the subject of death and dying in a much more positive and practical way.

“We hope these tools will raise awareness of this issue and help people to start those important conversations’. Making and sharing plans not only gives us peace of mind, but it also makes life easier for our loved ones as they will be safe in the knowledge that they are giving us the perfect send-off.”

USEFUL TOOLS

To record your funeral preferences for free, visit www.myperfectsendoff.co.uk

For a step by step guide on what to do when someone dies, visit www.sunlife.co.uk/whensomeonedies

For information on how to start saving for your funeral visit www.sunlifedirect.co.uk/funeral-planning

ENDS

1 Funerals have risen 5.5% in one year, pensions by 2.5%, inflation is 0.5%. Since 2004; Funerals have increased by 103%, Rent has increased by 38%, Food 40%, Utilities (Housing) 70%, insurance 76%, Clothing -24% Source: National Statistics: Consumer Price Inflation

2Compound interest of inflation 32.3%

For a full copy of the report, additional data, further information or commentary on the findings please contact:

Rachel Mason, SunLife PR Manager

rachel.mason@sunlife.co.uk

0117 3225431 or 07920 537480.

 

About the research

The annual ‘Cost of Dying’ report has been one of the most significant pieces of ongoing research in its field for the last ten years. The report was commissioned by SunLife and prepared by Critical Research. The quantitative side of this project consisted of an online survey carried out between April 2016 and May 2016 which was asked to 1,509 consumers. This was supported by 100 telephone interviews of Funeral Directors from across the sector. The questions asked were the same set of questions used in previous years of this project.

The following terms relate to the following costs:

The 2016 total cost of dying referenced in this report is the sum of the average costs for order sheets, venue hire, additional limo(s), funeral flowers, death notice, funeral notice, memorial, catering, viewing of the body, embalming, live music, recorded music, and administration of the estate, plus the average cost for funeral, cremation or burial.

The statistical regions used by the UK’s ONS (Office of National Statistics) comprise the Government Office Regions for England, plus Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These constitute 12 regions.

With the inclusion of Northern Ireland (to ensure UK coverage and not just GB), the following regions have been aggregated for research purposes to derive 10 regions:

  • South East with East of England
  • West Midlands and East Midlands

The research was therefore spread across the following regions:

  • Region 1 Wales
  • Region 2 South East and East of England
  • Region 3 London
  • Region 4 East and West Midlands
  • Region 5 Yorkshire and the Humber
  • Region 6 Scotland
  • Region 7 South West England
  • Region 8 North West England
  • Region 9 North East England
  • Region 10 Northern Ireland

As well as that, there are some instances where ‘North’ has also been included. This is because in some instances, North East England’s base size was quite small and so a merged region gives more reliable information.

About SunLife

SunLife rebranded in 2014 but has been around since 1810, making it one of the oldest financial services companies in the UK. The company is a direct-to-consumer financial services provider, offering a range of straightforward and affordable products across insurance, savings and protection.

The company’s ambition is to ‘democratise financial services’ – giving everyday customers access to products that can give them a brighter financial future.

About Dying Matters:

Dying Matters is a coalition of 32,000 members across England and Wales which aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life.

Members include organisations from across the NHS, voluntary and independent health and care sectors; social care and housing sectors; a wide range of faith organisations; community organisations; schools and colleges; academic bodies; trade unions; the legal profession and the funeral sector.

www.dyingmatters.org

About Critical Research:

Critical Research is an independent market research company, specialising in financial research.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife? 

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

The funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Ltd which is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.