Conversations around how much a funeral will cost when your loved ones die aren't your typical dinner chitchat. But the cost might come as a surprise for many and make arranging a funeral much more stressful. Knowing standard funeral costs can help you plan for a respectable send-off while reducing the costs.
The cost of dying report explained
When talking about money, it’s always worth it to get your terms right to avoid confusion. The annual SunLife Cost of Dying Report lists various figures around funeral expenses.
The most commonly used term you might hear around funeral arrangements is the ‘cost of dying’. The cost is the total cost of a funeral, including all professional fees, the funeral service, and any optional extras you might have, such as the funeral party or wake.
In 2022, you paid, on average, £9,200 to say your goodbyes. The price increased by 3.8% from £8,864 in 2021.
The average cost of a funeral
The situation looks a bit different if you only focus on the cost of the funeral without the extra fees. If we break the costs down into burial costs, cremation costs and the expense of a direct cremation, the prices have declined in all the categories from 2021 to 2022. Overall, the average cost of a funeral in the UK stands at £3,954, a decrease of 2.5% from £4,056 in 2021.
The breakdown of costs for burial and cremation looks like this:
|Type of funeral||Cost 2020||Cost 2021||Change|
|Average funeral cost||£4,184||£4,056||-3.1%|
Funeral cost in the UK by region
The national trend in the UK is similar, and only two regions - Northern Ireland and Wales - have witnessed a price increase.
So where do you pay for a funeral the most? It’s not a big surprise that London is the most expensive place to die in the UK, with the average local funeral costing £5,283.
The following table shows the four most expensive areas of the UK:
|Region||Cost 2021||Change on 2020|
|South East & East England||£4,825||-3.6%|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||£4,302||+0.7%|
|East and West Midlands||£3,942||-12.2%|
While death-related expenses increased in Northern Ireland in 2022, the region is still the most affordable place to die. There, the average cost was £3,317 in 2022.
The four most affordable regions in the UK in 2022 were:
|Region||Cost 2021||Change on 2020|
|North West England||£3,840||+1.4%|
|South West England||£3,907||-6.1%|
|North East England||£3,915||+2.3%|
Funeral expenses in Scotland remained broadly the same. The average cost decreased by 0.6% to £3,848 in 2022.
Direct cremation costs
Direct cremation is the most affordable choice for your final journey. It is cremation without a funeral service or the opportunity to view the body. Surviving relatives also won't have a say when the cremation occurs, nor can they choose the crematorium. You won't have a wake or a reception as part of the package.
Conventional cremation comes with additional services. You get to:
- Choose if you want to view the body
- Pick the coffin
- Choose the crematorium and the cremation date
- Have a funeral service
- Hold a wake or reception on the day of the cremation
The additional extras explain why the cost of a traditional cremation can be almost double that of a direct cremation.
You will get a lot of flexibility with a burial. The package is similar to traditional cremation, with the difference that the service includes a burial in your chosen lot.
It’s worth noting that a standard grave can take up to four adult interments. You could be buried with your family at no additional burial plot cost.
Planning a funeral - burial or cremation?
The type of funeral you choose to have can make a big difference to the overall costs. Part of the reason funeral expenses payments have dipped in the past few years is the trend of choosing direct cremations, which can be thousands of pounds cheaper than a traditional burial. But ultimately, the decision to go with a burial or cremation comes down to your preferences.
Funeral director costs in your funeral plan
Another big part of the expenses comes from using a funeral director, and the UK has more than 7,000 funeral companies.
Choosing your funeral director is worth it, as funeral costs can vary between providers, and funeral director's fees can make up 50-66% of the costs. Typically, the use of funeral director means they:
- Collect, store, prepare and deliver the body to the cemetery or crematorium
- Provide a coffin, hearse and other transport
- Fill out the necessary forms for cremation or burial
Breakdown of third-party costs
You can always control the cost of your final journey by considering all the other optional funeral costs.
Here are other typical third-party costs associated with the overall expenses:
The cost of dying involves many charges you can control but plenty of those you can’t. Fixed expenses upon death include things like:
- Doctor’s fees
- Death notice
- Death certificate
- Probate fees
No matter what kind of funeral you choose to have, you will need to cover these costs as part of the process.
A hearse is not the only way to transport a coffin. But many choose to opt for it or have the funeral party transported from the service venue to the wake on a limousine.
Wake or funeral service
If you want to hold a service to commemorate the deceased's life, you must pay for the venue, the catering, and service personnel. However, you can control some costs by keeping guest figures smaller, holding the wake at your home, or making your food.
Aside from the expected costs, you should also consider things like flowers and service cards. You may also want a funeral notice, and if you don't have enough suitable family members, you may need to hire pallbearers.
How to pay for a funeral?
With all the different components, the average costs might seem like a lot to deal with. But by learning about the expenses, you’ve already taken the first step to making it more manageable.
You should shop around and compare prices. First, find out how much you might need to pay by asking for a quote from a few funeral directors. Then, compare the price of any additional costs you wish to have, such as flowers and catering. These can help you pay for the funeral without breaking the bank.
Pay funeral costs with a prepaid funeral plan
Prepaid funerals have become a common option for many. Under such a plan, you can make a single payment or pay in instalments to cover the cost of your funeral. You can take care of the costs upfront, adding a degree of security to your final goodbyes. A prepaid funeral guarantees organising a funeral costs what it would today, so you receive protection against inflation. You can find a list of approved prepaid funeral plan providers from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Use insurance to pay for the funeral
You could also cover the cost of a basic funeral with a life insurance policy. The policy pays out upon death, and your family can use the money to cover expenses.
Many life insurance policies are linked to stock market investments, and they could struggle to keep pace with the price of funerals.
How to get help with funeral costs?
The average funeral cost means you can easily end up paying thousands. If you're struggling to pay, you could get help from the following:
- Local councils or hospitals via Public Health Funeral
- The government-run Funeral Expenses Scheme
- Several children’s funeral funds
- Other local and national charities
In most cases, it helps to arrange the funeral in advance. You can reduce the financial and emotional toll of dealing with finances during this distressing time.
How much does a funeral cost?
The cost of a funeral depends on a variety of factors. The current trend has been a slight decrease in overall costs, primarily due to more people choosing the most affordable option. Whatever style of funeral you want, the key is to plan for it. Prepaid funeral arrangements or just saving some money for the inevitability can guarantee you get a funeral of your choice. It'll also save your loved ones some heartache and allows them to grieve in peace.