The cost of a basic funeral has risen to £ 4,184 on average, but more families opted for budget cremations during the pandemic and their price has fallen to £ 1,554.
There is a ‘direct cremation’ without a funeral service, after which the ashes are returned to a family, so that they can organize a personal memorial for a loved one at a time of their choosing.
These no-nonsense broadcasts made up 14 percent of all funerals in 2020, up from 3 percent the year before.
But during the early stage of the Covid-19 crisis last spring and early summer, a quarter of funerals were conducted this way, according to an annual report from insurer SunLife on the cost of death.
Death of a Loved One: The cost of a basic funeral has increased to £ 4,184 on average
The overall average cost of a basic funeral rose 1.7 percent last year, which was the lowest annual increase since 2004, the company found.
The price of a funeral in 2020 was on average 1.2 percent higher at £ 5,033, while traditional cremations including a service cost 0.7 percent more at £ 3,885.
Direct cremations cost 4.4 percent less than in 2019 and 9.2 percent less than in 2018.
A basic funeral covers benefits for the cremation or burial, a funeral director, physician and pastor or celebrant.
But other extras pushed the total cost of coping with a death to an average of £ 9,263 last year.
These included a memorial, death and funeral notices, flowers, order forms, limousines, the venue and catering for a wake, which averaged £ 2,532 last year, representing a 9.8 percent price increase.
Another cost could be professional fees, such as hiring a lawyer to manage an estate, but these fell 8.1 percent last year to £ 2,547, according to SunLife’s report.
The company found that 24 percent of people who hosted a funeral between February and July 2020 said their loved one’s death was linked to Covid-19.
During the first phase of Covid-19 last spring and early summer, a quarter of funerals were direct cremations
Of the families who hosted a funeral during this early phase of the pandemic, 86 percent said there were things they couldn’t or should not cut back, mostly because of the vigil, 71 percent said not everyone wanted to attend, and 15 percent said had to change his plans.
In 2020, 35 percent of people left no money to pay for their funeral, and of those who did, 34 percent did not leave enough.
SunLife found that families had to find an average of £ 1,789 to cover costs, causing a total of 14 percent financial hardship, but this rose to 34 percent among those organizing a funeral for someone who died of Covid-19.
Of those who struggled to pay the bills, 25 percent used a credit card to make up for the difference, 25 percent borrowed from a friend or family member, 17 percent sold assets, 13 percent took out a loan, and 9 percent applied for a grant From the government.
Sunlife says the cost of a basic funeral remains highest in London, where the price rose 3.4 percent last year to £ 5,235 on average.
But there was a 7.4 percent price drop to £ 3,222 in Northern Ireland, the cheapest place to have a funeral in the UK, and costs also dropped in Yorkshire, the South West and North East.
To compile its report, SunLife surveyed 100 funeral directors – 10 per region in the UK – and 1,506 individuals involved in organizing a funeral over the past four years.
However, it has adjusted the way it calculates the average cost of a funeral this year to account for the fact that there are more cremations than funerals than when it first began tracking funeral costs in 2004.
To provide a consistent comparison over time, it has also updated previous years’ numbers to reflect this change.
Cost of Death: SunLife surveyed 100 funeral directors, 10 per UK region and 1,506 individuals
Justin Cole, director at SunLife, says: “Our report clearly shows that the pandemic may have caused a fundamental shift in people’s attitudes and even in the funeral industry.
‘The possibility of direct cremation in particular is increasingly understood and accepted.
Since many families are unable to organize a more traditional funeral due to government restrictions, they opted for a direct cremation and potentially saved thousands of pounds.
“Because more families asked for direct cremations, more than 90 percent of funeral directors are now offering them.”
Cole says that if more people were to talk about their wishes for a funeral with loved ones, it is likely that the number of direct cremations will increase and the overall cost of funerals will decrease.
One in ten of us feel pressured to spend more than we want on a loved one’s funeral for fear of being perceived as cheap, but the reality is that most of us would be happy with a direct cremation or want our loved ones to ‘spend as little money as possible’.
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