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15 Jan, 2024 16:50

‘Cost of dying’ at record high in UK – report

A growing number of Britons are choosing cheaper funerals amid declining living standards
‘Cost of dying’ at record high in UK – report

Funeral costs have risen to a record high in the UK, prompting nearly one in four people to opt for a direct cremation or burial with no send-off, according to a report by insurance firm SunLife. Almost one in five people had to sell their belongings to pay for their funeral last year, the report found.

Between the cost of burial or cremation, the price of a memorial service, and expenses like legal fees, the “cost of dying” hit an average of £9,658 ($12,296) in the UK last year, the report stated. This represents an increase of £458 since 2022, and is the highest such figure ever recorded by SunLife.

In 2023, the average funeral itself cost £4,141 – 4.7% more than in 2022 and up from only £1,835 in 2004. With prices rising, the report noted that more and more Britons are opting for cheaper funerals, based on interviews with more than 1,500 families and 100 funeral directors.

Some 20% of families had their loved ones directly cremated last year, up from only 3% in 2019. A direct cremation involves the deceased being taken straight to the crematorium without any religious or other remembrance service. 4% opted for direct burials, in which the deceased is buried without a service. 2023 was the first year that SunLife recorded this kind of funeral in its report.

A direct burial costs an average of £1,657, compared to the £5,077 price tag attached to a traditional burial, the report noted.

No matter what kind of funeral someone chooses, a growing number of people are finding it hard to pay for their own departure, with 45% having to rely on their families to make up some of the costs. Since last year, the number of people selling their belongings to cover their funeral expenses has risen from 15% to 18%, the report found. 

Britain is currently experiencing the worst fall in living standards since records began, with the Office of Management and Budget warning last year that the decline will continue through this March. The TUC trade union warned last week that real wages will not return to their 2008 levels until at least 2028.

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