(Funeral costs are increasing But we don’t like talking about it!)
Research carried out by insurer SunLife in their ‘Cost of Dying Report 2017’ suggests that we Brits just don’t like talking about funerals. Perhaps this is not surprising, as it’s not the most enjoyable of subjects.
But having recently lost my beloved nan, the scale of the costs now involved did surprise me. This lead me to look into the numbers more closely and then to write this post.
Did you know the cost of a UK funeral have risen for 13 consecutive years. That’s a +112% increase since 2004 and it’s projected to reach nearly £5,000 by 2022!
Funeral costs have risen +70% over the last decade, (but wages just +20%)
Over the last ten years, whilst funeral costs have increased by over +70%, our wages have increased by just +20%.
To put this into perspective, house prices have increased at just a third of the rate of our funeral costs during this period.
I came across this infographic from life insurance broker Reassured, which visualises this rise nicely.
But why have costs increased so rapidly?
I would have expected funeral costs to have risen over time after all nearly everything has become more expensive.
However, the scale of the increase was surprising, which prompted me to look into the reasons why.
- Cuts in local authority funding
- A rise in crematoria costs and reduced subsidies for burials, (linked to above point)
- A sizeable increase in funeral directors fees
- An increase in operational staff wages (i.e. crematorium staff)
- An increase in the cost of land and fuel
- A lack of space for new graves to be built.
A burial or a cremation?
The average cost of a UK burial is £4,561, whereas a cremation is cheaper, £3,596.
However, this really doesn’t tell the whole story as there’s huge regional swings in the cost of dying across the country.
In London the average cost of a burial is £7,311. Where as over in Northern Ireland the cost is much less, £2,895.
You’ll probably not be surprised to read that London is also the most expensive region overall for funerals at £5,951, +45.9% above the national average.
Again, Northern Ireland have the lowest cost at an average of £2,982, which is -26.9% below average.
Funerals make up just 46% of the total cost of dying!
You may be surprised to learn, (I was), that the funeral part of the total cost of dying makes up just 46%?
You also have to factor in the amount spent on all the additional costs, like; wake/memorial, a venue, catering, flowers, car hire etc. All in all the average cost of this is another £1,928.
Then there’s the sizeable cost of hiring a professional to administer the estate, average cost £2,899.
When you add these 3 elements together, the average cost of dying in the UK is now £8,905.
A changing trend, challenging traditional
The traditional, ‘religious’ services are becoming less and less popular in recent years. Instead, people are preferring to hold a ‘celebration of life’.
I was also pleased to read that half of all funerals now include modern music too, such as Bob Marley’s ‘Don’t worry’ and ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams.
There’s also been a rise in the number of eco, environmental and woodland funerals. Although I am not 100% sure what these are.
(Potentially) a financial burden on our loved ones
Although I am sure it’s very possible to fund a funeral for much less than £8,905, nevertheless this is still a massive sum of money to find.
Despite this, only 58% of us have made provisions to pay for our funeral. This results in many loved ones potentially being burdened by a substandial cost.
Of those who said that finding the funds for the funeral had caused financial problems:
- 27% borrowed money
- 23% put it on a credit card
- 13% took out a loan
- 12% took out a payment plan
- 12% sold personal belongings
- Others had to use their personal savings
Plan for the future
If you are at a certain stage in your life it’s probably a good idea to have a think about how to provision for your funeral.
Whether it be taking out a funeral plan, over 50s plan or just setting aside some savings, it’s always good to make a plan.
Ultimately, it all starts with a conversion, so don’t be afraid to talk about your funeral with your family. Although it’s never a nice discussion to have, they may thank you for it one day.
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