Cost of dying decreases for the first time

Cost of dying decreases for the first time

The cost of the average funeral in the UK has gone down for the first time, according to research by the financial services company SunLife.

The company has been researching funeral costs since 2004 and this is the first time in that period that there has been a decrease. The average cost of dying is now £8,864 – down 4.3% since 2020. The costs of the average basic funeral have also reduced, dropping 3.1% since 2020 to £4,056.

SunLife calculates the cost of dying according to the total costs of a funeral – which includes the service, professional fees and the optional extras such as a wake – and in 2021, this was £8,864, compared to £9,263 the year before.

Direct cremation rises in price

For basic funerals that do not include formal services, hearses, etc., the 2021 figure of £4,056 compares to £4,184 in 2020. But the most affordable type of funeral—a direct cremation—has risen in cost by 6% to £1,647.

At £4,927 (-2.1%), opting to be buried after you die is still the most expensive option. A cremation costs £3,765 (-3.1%) on average.

SunLife notes that the most dramatic change in funeral costs this year is the fall in professional fees, which have dropped 8.7% since 2020 to £2,325 and are making up just over a quarter (26.2%) of the total costs of dying.

Impact of the pandemic

In 2021, send-off costs (catering, memorials, flowers etc) dropped by 1.9% to £2,484. This is likely to have been impacted by the pandemic and social distancing, and the barriers that put in the way of organising events.

While overall there was a drop in costs, the cost of dying did increase in four English regions – London, the north east and north-west of England, and Yorkshire and the Humber. As you might expect, London remains the most expensive place to die at an average of £5,358, while Northern Ireland is the cheapest, at £3,056.

The bulk of people choose to be cremated—57%, with 25% opting to be buried and 18% direct cremations. Direct cremations have gained in popularity, even more so during the pandemic when it became the most practical option.

Funerals changed drastically during 2020 and 2021 because of Covid-19. Some 85% of people who organised a funeral between February 2020 and July 2021 said the event had been affected by Covid-19 and social distancing.



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