For the first time in 18 years, the SunLife Cost of Dying report 2022 shows that the average cost of a funeral has dropped by 3.1%. The report, which has tracked the overall cost of dying annually since 2004, showed that funeral costs have dropped from £4184 in 2020, to £4,056 in 2021.
SunLife also reports the total cost of dying, including funeral costs, professional fees and personal wishes is down by 4.3%, now averaging £8,864.
But what has caused this price drop and is it the good news story it appears to be?
Are funeral costs really coming down?
A price drop is always good news, especially when you’re talking about a necessary expense such as paying for a funeral.
As a result of scathing reports over previous years, work has already begun to create greater transparency on funeral costs. These efforts, plus a rise in demand for simple, fuss free funerals will undoubtedly have helped to chip away at funeral costs.
However, probably one of the biggest reasons for the drop in funeral costs throughout 2021 has to be the impact of the pandemic.
How has Covid 19 affected funeral costs?
The restrictions imposed on funerals as a result of Covid 19 forced many families to arrange simple cremations for their loved ones, often with few or no mourners in attendance. The increase in demand for direct cremation to 18% of funerals (24% throughout the whole duration of the pandemic) therefore comes as no surprise.
However, with average costs of £1,647, direct cremation is appealing to a growing number of UK families looking for a modern alternative to a traditional funeral. So regardless of the impact of Covid 19, the growth of this simple cremation only funeral looks set to continue.
So, what is the cost of dying in 2022?
The total cost of dying in 2022 is £8,864, comprised of the following:
- The cost of a basic funeral - £4,056 (-3.1%)
- Professional fees to administer the estate - £2,325 (-8.7)
- Send off costs such as the wake and flowers - £2,484 (-1.9%)
When is comes to the actual funeral costs, cremation is still the most popular and cheapest funeral option:
- Burial costs - £4,927 (-2.1%)
- Cremation costs - £3,765 (-3.1%)
- Direct cremation costs - £1,647 (+6%)
How much does a funeral cost in my area?
In addition to the type of funeral you arrange, the location of the funeral will also affect the price you pay.
London is still the most expensive place to die in the UK at £5,385 and costs have continued to rise throughout the last 12 months. Encouragingly, 6 of the 10 regions reported have shown a drop in funeral costs, with Northern Ireland continuing to be the most affordable place for a funeral.
- London - £5,385 (+2.3%)
- South East & East England - £4,825 (-3.6%)
- Yorkshire and the Humber - £4,302 (+0.7%)
- East and West Midlands - £3,942 (-12.2%)
- North East England - £3,915 (+2.3%)
- South West England – £3,907 (-6.1%)
- Scotland - £3,873 (-4.7%)
- North West England - £3,840 (+1.4%)
- Wales - £3,540 (-4.8%)
- Northern Ireland - £3,056 (-5.2%)
Paying for a funeral
Although funeral costs are slightly lower, paying for a funeral remains a challenge for many UK households. 17% of families surveyed experienced notable financial difficulty finding money to fund funeral costs, using credit cards, loans, borrowing money and even selling belongings to bridge the gap.
To help reduce funeral costs, families tried to budget by choosing cheaper coffins, spending less of flowers, having the wake at home and using their own cars.
Comparing funeral costs can play an important part when it comes to saving money, yet only 17% of people got multiple quotes. In fact 55% only got one quote and simply chose that funeral director and 28% didn’t get a quote at all.
66% of people had made some provision for their funeral costs in the form of savings, a prepaid funeral plan or over 50 life insurance. However only 63% had actually put aside sufficient funds to cover the whole funeral, meaning families still had money to find.
The future of funerals
Throughout 2021, 9 out of 10 funeral directors said they saw news trends emerge. In addition to the rise in simple direct cremations, technology is playing a part in the more modern funeral service. Funerals are now being watched remotely online by those who can’t attend. Invites are being sent via social media and services are being recorded for later viewing.
Attitudes are changing to funerals however we are still reluctant to talk about death and share our wishes with our families. Only 52% of people who had organised a funeral knew whether their loved one wanted a burial or cremation. So, we need to start being more open about our wishes and get smarter when it comes to planning ahead.
What is the Sunlife cost of dying report 2022?
The SunLife Cost of Dying Report is provided by leading UK financial services provider SunLife. The survey is based on 1,616 adults who have planned a funeral in the last 4 years and a panel of funeral directs and has tracked the cost of dying in the UK annually since 2004.