The cost of a ba­sic fu­neral has risen 3.9% in 12 months, with cre­ma­tions up 4.2% – in­creases that are cause for grave con­cern

Scottish Field - - FOOD & DRINK -

Two costs climb ever up­wards in life, im­per­vi­ous to down­turns and re­ces­sions. And when faced with them, we are re­luc­tant to chal­lenge them. There is the cost of get­ting mar­ried, with the av­er­age bill for a wed­ding now more than £21,000 – not in­clud­ing the hon­ey­moon or the rings. And there is the re­lent­less rise in the cost of that other fact of life: the price of an av­er­age fu­neral.

Re­search by Royal Lon­don, the UK’s largest mu­tual life and pen­sions com­pany, found that the cost of a ba­sic fu­neral in the UK is now £3,702 be­fore any of the at­ten­dant ‘frills’ – hearse, cof­fin, flow­ers and news­pa­per an­nounce­ment. The cost has risen by 3.9% over twelve months, well above the 1% an­nual in­fla­tion rate and con­tin­u­ing a long-term trend that has seen the cost of dy­ing con­sis­tently out­pace the cost of liv­ing. In­deed, since 1980 the av­er­age an­nual in­crease in fu­neral costs has been 6.1%, com­pared to the gen­eral in­fla­tion rate of 4% – and ris­ing by al­most as much as house prices over this pe­riod.

Cre­ma­tion costs have risen more than buri­als: the av­er­age cre­ma­tion has risen by 4.2% to £3,294, while the av­er­age burial is up by 3.7% to £4,110. And the cost of dy­ing con­tin­ues to be a post­code lot­tery. A fu­neral bill can range from £2,976 for a cre­ma­tion in Greenock, to £7,216 for a burial in Beck­en­ham, Kent – a dif­fer­ence of £4,240.

For Scot­land there is a con­so­la­tion: it has ex­pe­ri­enced one of the low­est rises in costs across the UK, helped by the re­moval of doctors’ fees (‘cash for ash’) in May last year, slic­ing £164 off the fu­neral bill. But this still leaves wide-

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