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
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-