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Funeral costs spiral to £4,271 following annual rise of 4.7%…but you can hold a funeral for less than HALF the price

Posted on 7 September 2018

  • Funeral costs have risen 4.7% in a year and more than doubled in past 15
  • A direct cremation costs less than half the price of a funeral
  • Cost of direct cremations have fallen 6.7% to £1,712 on average

The national average of a basic funeral has risen for the 15th year in a row and now costs £4,271 according to SunLife’s 2018 Cost of Dying research report, released today (September 10, 2018).

However, the cost of a direct cremation - where the body is taken away, cremated and the ashes returned to the family without a funeral service – are actually falling.

According to the Cost of Dying Report, the cost of a direct cremation – which is already the cheapest option - has bucked the trend and fallen 6.7% in the past year to an average of £1,712. This is £2,032 less than a standard cremation and £2,559 less than the average funeral.

Region Average Direct Cremation Cost 2017 Average Direct Cremation Cost 2018 Average Cremation Cost 2018 Average funeral cost 2018 (average of crems and burials)
Wales £1,929 £1,482 £3,142 £3,538
South East & East of England £2,194 £1,598 £3,840 £4,469
London £2,463 £1,911 £4,222 £5,880
East and West Midlands £1,536 £1,872 £3,625 £4,179
Yorkshire and the Humber £1,518 £1,341 £4,079 £4,459
Scotland £1,680 £1,642 £3,544 £4,085
South West England £1,976 £1,823 £4,365 £4,685
North West England £1,454 £1,558 £3,564 £3,945
North East England £1,627 £1,703 £3,798 £4,171
Northern Ireland £2,065 £1,953 £3,222 £3,231
National average £1,835 £1,712 £3,744 £4,271
Direct cremations – a lack of awareness

However, despite being considerably cheaper, currently just 2% of cremations are direct cremations, but this could well be down to a lack of awareness rather than a lack of willing, as most of us don’t want a fuss.

In fact, 98% say they don’t want a lavish funeral, while 31% want our funerals to be as cheap as possible.

SunLife’s CEO Dean Lamble, says if direct cremations were more widely known, they would likely become much more popular:

Almost half (47%) of those who had recently organised a cremation had not heard of a direct cremation,” he says. “However, once they knew what it was, 19% said they would have considered it for the deceased and 44% said they would consider a direct cremation for their own funeral,

he added.

This suggests that the number of direct cremations is still relatively low because of a lack of awareness not a lack of willing.

Tattoos, jewellery, and fireworks – a celebration of life

SunLife’s Cost of Dying report shows that while we all have quite strong ideas about what type of funeral we would like to have, very few of us communicate these ideas to loved ones – 18% didn’t know any of the funeral preferences - just 1% knew all the wishes of the deceased.

The benefit of speaking to loved ones about what you want is that you can make certain aspects of the day really personal. Highly personalised funerals appear to be on the rise, with more and more people making special requests for their own funerals:

And with the average direct cremation costing significantly less than the average funeral cost, this can leave more money to organise a more personal celebration of the deceased’s life, providing the freedom do something more ‘unusual’ with the ashes.

Some examples from this year include:

  • Turning ashes into glass
  • Burying ashes on a football pitch
  • Putting the ashes into fireworks
  • Using ashes in tattoo ink for a tattoo
  • Requesting everyone wear pink and drink prosecco at the wake
  • Requesting everyone to be dressed as clowns
  • Cow themed wake with a cow cake

Dean concludes:

SunLife’s research shows that most of us don’t want those we leave behind worrying about spending loads on our funeral. A funeral doesn’t need to cost thousands. A family might choose to have a direct cremation and a simple get together afterwards for their loved one. It is important that we talk about what we want with our loved ones to make sure everyone gets the perfect send-off.

Read the full Cost of Dying 2018 report

SunLife’s free funeral calculator can help you work out how much you might need to put aside for your own funeral, while SunLife’s Perfect Send Off tool is an easy way to record your funeral wishes for free.

For more information about this release, or for a full copy of the Cost of Dying Report and further breakdowns of the data, contact Kim Latham 07496 310169 or Rachel Mason 07759 147131