UK funeral costs in 2021

UK funeral costs now average £4,417, however funeral prices vary depending on where you live. Cremation remains the cheaper type of funeral service at £3,858 with the average cost of burial at £4,975. The lowest cost funeral is a direct cremation which is gaining in popularity and currently averages £1,626.

How much does a funeral cost?uk funeral costs

A funeral today costs almost £4,500 on average, up from £1,920 in 2004. That’s an increase of 130% over the last 15 years This figure includes the essential funeral costs such as the funeral director’s fees and third party charges. Prices including additional services such as flowers, catering or a memorial would be higher.

In fact according to Sunlife’s Cost of Dying Report 2021, when you factor in the essential funeral expenses, optional extras and professional fees for administrating the estate, the total cost of dying is now £9,493.

How much does a cremation funeral cost?

According to SunLife’s latest research, the average cost of a cremation funeral in the UK is currently £3,885. This figure includes the funeral director’s services – e.g. collection and care of the deceased, a basic coffin, a hearse and taking care of a simple service. It also includes cremation fees, the celebrant or minister’s fees and the doctor’s fee for the medical certificate. It does not include any extras or personal touches like flowers and orders of service.

The actual cost of a cremation funeral can vary considerably depending on where in the country you live and the type of funeral arrangements you want. 

How much does a burial cost?

According to SunLife’s latest research, the average cost of a burial funeral in the UK is £5,033. This cost includes the burial plot and services of the funeral director – e.g. collection and care of the deceased, a basic coffin, a hearse and limousine, and taking care of a simple service. It also includes the interment fees and the minister or celebrant fees. It does not include any extras like a headstone or personal touches like flowers and orders of service.

The actual cost of a burial funeral can vary considerably depending on where in the country you live, particularly when it comes to the cost and availability of burial plots.

How much does a basic funeral cost?

The most basic funeral is probably an unattended funeral, also known as a direct cremation. The average cost of a direct cremation in the UK is currently £1,554.

This cost includes collection and care of the deceased, a basic coffin, transport to the crematorium, cremation and doctor's fees.

Direct cremation is often the least expensive option as it keeps the funeral director’s services to a minimum.

Breakdown of funeral costs

Funeral costs breakdown into three categories:

  1. The funeral director’s fees
  2. Third party costs, also known as disbursements
  3. Optional funeral expenses such as flowers and orders of service

1. Funeral director fees

The funeral director’s costs currently average £2,687 and include the following services

  • Collection and care of the deceased
  • Support and guidance for the family
  • Use of their facilities including the chapel of rest
  • The coffin
  • The hearse
  • Their services on the day

Prices vary by region and by company so it is worth comparing funeral director’s fees where possible. However, if you think it might be too difficult at the time to compare costs, you might want to consider paying for a funeral in advance with a prepaid funeral plan.

2. Third party funeral costs

Third party funeral costs are charges that are beyond the control of the funeral director.

Average third party cost in the UK today:

  • Cremation fees - £860
  • Burial fees - £2,288
  • Minister or Officiant’s fees - £169
  • Doctor’s fees - £164

These costs will vary according to where you live in the country.

3. Optional funeral expenses

Optional funeral expenses are the additional funeral services you may want to include to personalise the service:

Average cost of optional funeral expenses:

  • Flowers - £184
  • Service cards - £88
  • Death notice - £82
  • Limousine hire for family - £313
  • Venue hire - £245
  • Catering - £408
  • A memorial - £910

How can funeral costs be reduced?

  • Pay for your funeral at today’s prices with a prepaid funeral plan
  • Choose cremation rather than burial
  • Go one step further and choose a direct cremation with no service to pay for
  • Opt for a simple coffin
  • Go easy on flowers or dispense with them altogether
  • Limit transport to the hearse only

Is it best to pay for your funeral in advance?

Whether it is best to pay for your funeral in advance will depend on your personal circumstances. Paying for a funeral can be expensive and may cause some families financial hardship. Arranging and paying for your funeral in advance can remove this burden, making life that bit easier. There are several ways this can be achieved; with savings, a prepaid funeral plan or over 50 life insurance.

The following information explains how each option can make paying for your funeral in advance simple, straightforward and stress-free.

Savings or an ISA

Using an ISA or saving money on a monthly basis to pay for a funeral is an option, however you may need to be disciplined as there is always the risk you spend the money on other things. Also, the interest rates on savings accounts are low compared to how much funeral costs have risen, so you would need to keep your pot of cash topped up.

Paying from your estate

If you feel there are sufficient funds in your property, you may prefer your funeral costs to be paid for out of your estate. However, this may result in your family having to pay for the funeral before your estate is settled, which could be problematic for them.

Prepaid funeral plans

A prepaid funeral plan lets you arrange and pay for your funeral at today’s prices. The costs are frozen meaning you don’t have to worry about any future price rises, and you can choose the type of funeral you prefer.

As well as removing the financial worry of paying for a funeral from your family, a funeral plan could also remove the pressure of having to arrange your funeral.

Over 50 life insurance

Over 50 life insurance pays out a cash sum when you die that could help with funeral costs, which is why they are often referred to as funeral insurance. Plans start from as little as £3.70 a month which may appeal to those who prefer to keep to a smaller monthly budget.

Help with funeral costs

Help with funeral costs is available through the government with the  funeral expenses payment . To apply, you need to be on a low income and in receipt of certain benefits. The money paid out by the funeral payment scheme is insufficient to cover all funeral costs but will help with cremation or burial fees, and possibly some additional fees like the funeral director.

Who pays for a funeral if there is no money?

The family or executor of the will is usually responsible for paying funeral costs, which can be reclaimed from the deceased’s estate where possible. If there is no money to pay for funeral costs, your local authority has a legal duty to provide a public health funeral.

Public health funerals typically consist of a simple cremation, arranged by the local authority that family and friends can attend.

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