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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 Kim.Latham@sunlife.co.uk 07496 310169 or Rachel Mason rachel.mason@bclear.co.uk 07759 147131

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). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

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?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services. Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd 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.