‘Cost of dying’ rockets to £7,622 as local councils ramp up burial and cremation fees

4th September 2013

The cost of dying has reached £7,622 according to Sun Life Direct an increase of 7.1% since 2012 according to Sun Life Direct.

The insurer, which offers products to help people plan for funeral costs, calculates the cost of dying by adding funeral costs, plus the costs of some discretionary funeral extras such as headstones and flowers and estate administration such as probate.

The insurers says that the average cost of a funeral is £3,456 an 80% increase since 2004 while 18% already struggle to pay for a funeral.

It says its calculation of national funeral poverty shortfall is now £131 million which has increased by 50% in three years.

Sun Life Direct contends that those on lower incomes are too poor to die. It says that average savings for C2DEs are less than total cost of dying: In 2000, the C2DE 60-69 demographic had a median £5,130 in savings; however, by 2010, the same demographic (now 70-79) had £4,000 – a reduction of £1,130.

It finds that burials are significantly more expensive than cremations with the average burial at £3,914, costing almost £1,000 more than the average cremation at £2,998.

Sun Life direct says that the increase in funeral costs is commonly attributed to funeral directors. But it says this year the price increase is mainly due to the rise in disbursement fees in particular cremation and burial fees which are usually controlled by local authorities. Since 2007 burial fees have risen by 69% and cremation fees by 51%.

Discretionary funeral costs (additional funeral costs beyond the basics such as family flowers, catering, and limos) also recorded a rise. The average amount spent on funeral extras increased £83 to £2,006 or 4.3% with the cost of a memorial accounting for a large part of this expenditure 43% at £864.

The average shortfall for those struggling to pay has risen from £1,246 to £1,277 year on year.

The national average masks significant variations at a regional level with the average cost of dying in the London area now standing at a staggering £9,556, significantly higher than the national average. The least expensive place to die is Wales where the average cost stands at £6,096.

Melanie Rees, Head of Brand, Sun Life Direct says:“As over 100,000 people struggle to pay for a funeral this year, an important message for everyone should be to do something to prepare, however small. The death of a loved one is a difficult time, and is only compounded by financial worries over how to pay for the funeral. Drawing on savings can be one way to cover the cost. However, as funeral poverty stands at just over £131 million, savings are clearly not an option for everyone. In old age, savings can deplete; advising people to rely on money they may not even have is irresponsible and more financial options should be available.”

 

Dr Kate Woodthorpe, lecturer in Sociology, University of Bath, says: “It is disappointing that the number of people who struggle to afford a funeral shows no sign of abating. Funeral poverty has increased more than 50% in the last three years and it is likely that this will continue. The notable postcode lottery of funeral costs, especially in terms of cremation and burial costs, is particularly troubling. People need to realise that death is one of the few certainties in life and must be addressed ahead of time so that plans can be made with regard to who will pay for their funeral, and how. Not everyone has to choose the same funeral and costs can vary, but these need to be discussed with family and friends to ensure appropriate provisions are made.”

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