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