Burial costs rise by 7pc (in­fla­tion is 0.6pc)

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - OPINION -

The cost of the av­er­age funeral has soared to £3,897, tak­ing the to­tal cost of dy­ing to £8,802. Funeral costs have risen by 103pc since 2004 and 5.5pc in the past year.

The fig­ures come from the lat­est report by Sun­Life, the in­sur­ance com­pany. It said funeral costs had risen more than twice as fast as pen­sions, prices and earn­ings.

A ba­sic funeral makes up 44pc of the over­all cost of death – ex­tras such as the head­stone, flow­ers and es­tate ad­min­is­tra­tion take the to­tal to al­most £9,000.

The report sug­gests that burial costs have in­creased the most. In 2015 you could ex­pect to pay £1,822 for a ba­sic burial. Now the fig­ure is more like £1,950 – an in­crease of 7pc. Cre­ma­tion costs have risen by 6.5pc. The most re­cent fig­ure for over­all price in­fla­tion, by con­trast, was just 0.6pc a year.

Costs vary by re­gion – Lon­don is by far the most ex­pen­sive.

The Sun­Life report found that a ba­sic funeral in Lon­don cost, on av­er­age, £5,529. Fam­i­lies in North­ern Ire­land could ex­pect to pay £3,277.

The most costly el­e­ment of a ba­sic funeral is hir­ing a funeral di­rec­tor; this usu­ally costs be­tween £2,282 to £2,411, ac­cord­ing to the report.

Funeral di­rec­tors’ re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­clude stor­ing, dress­ing and trans­port­ing the body and com­plet­ing the pa­per­work.

There is no re­quire­ment to use a funeral di­rec­tor – all of these du­ties could be per­formed by the fam­ily if they are com­fort­able do­ing so.

The next largest cost is the burial or cre­ma­tion, on which fam­i­lies now spend an av­er­age of £1,950 and £733 re­spec­tively.

Then there are the costs of the wake, lim­ou­sines and other ex­tras, which to­gether amount to £2,000 on top of the ba­sic funeral.

When faced with the loss of a rel­a­tive, fam­i­lies can end up pay­ing more than they should for a funeral they don’t nec­es­sar­ily want.

Rosie In­man-Cook from the Nat­u­ral Death Cen­tre, a char­ity, said fam­i­lies could of­ten end up pay­ing for ex­pen­sive pack­ages be­cause they did not know what to ask for and be­cause funeral di­rec­tors were in­flex­i­ble.

She said: “I hear from many peo­ple who just want something sim­ple but their funeral di­rec­tor re­fuses to of­fer the body dis­posal sep­a­rately from the ser­vice.

“In most cases you are just pay­ing for the men in black to stand around twid­dling their thumbs.”

She sug­gested that fam­i­lies con­sider a “di­rect” burial or cre­ma­tion. “It’s like a funeral with­out the funeral – the body is taken straight from the hos­pi­tal or home to the cre­ma­to­rium,” she said.

In­creases in the cost of dy­ing far out­strip rises in prices and wages. Amelia Mur­ray re­ports

Lee Mead

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