The basic cost of a funeral in the UK has increased for the 10th year running, according to an annual survey which reveals that the key expenses associated with dying have soared by 80% since 2004.
A steep rise in local authority burial and cremation fees has pushed the average cost of a basic funeral up to £3,456, according to insurer Sun Life Direct.
When discretionary costs such as probate, headstones and flowers are added, the total cost of dying has risen faster than inflation and now stands at £7,622 – an increase of 7.1% on 2012.
The figures are set out in Sun Life Direct’s annual Cost of Dying report, which said this year’s increase was mainly due to the rise in disbursement fees, in particular cremation and burial fees.
Since 2007 burial fees have risen by 69% and cremation fees by 51%; they now stand at £3,914 and £2,998 respectively.
The research projects that funeral costs will continue to rise significantly, to an expected £4,326 in 2018.
The insurer also said one in five people who have organised a funeral in the past four years struggled to meet the cost, with an average shortfall of £1,277.
Melanie Rees, head of brand at Sun Life Direct, said: “As over 100,000 people struggle to pay for a funeral this year, an important message for everyone should be to do something to prepare, however small.
“The death of a loved one is a difficult time and is only compounded by financial worries over how to pay for the funeral.”
Alan Slater, chief executive of the National Association of Funeral Directors, said the report backed up its own research which showed an increasing number of people were falling into “funeral poverty”, with big shortfalls between the support available from the government’s Social Fund and the cost of a basic funeral.
“Sadly, this is often leading either to the bereaved being forced into the arms of payday loan companies or, increasingly, leaving funeral directors with unsustainable levels of debt,” Slater said. “The NAFD has long campaigned for increases to the Social Fund. The average payment of £700 plus disbursements has not increased since 2003, and less than half of those who apply are successful anyway.”
Proposed changes to death certification in England and Wales in 2014 will make matters worse by levying an additional fee on all burials, Slater said.