On average, there are about 500,000 deaths in the UK each year. Due to an increasingly ageing population, this number is expected to rise to 590,000 in the next two decades. In the event of the death of a loved one, arranging for the funeral is one of the most difficult things a family has to endure.
In addition to the pain of having lost a loved one, the family of the deceased has to worry about the ever-rising funeral costs.
The average price of a funeral in the UK is one of the highest in Europe. In this article, we give you a breakdown of funeral costs in the UK to help you work out a payment plan. We’ve also provided an outline of available options vis-à-vis assistance with funeral costs.
How Much Does A Funeral Cost in the UK?
In the last few years, funeral costs within the UK have increased significantly. At the moment, the average price of a funeral in the UK is at £3,757. The average cost of burial and cremation are £4,267 and £3,247 respectively. These figures represent a basic funeral cost that includes the burial or cremation itself, doctor or funeral director’s fees, as well as the celebrant or minister’s fees.
The basic funeral cost will vary depending on where you live in the UK. For instance, these costs are higher in London than in Swansea. Other variables to take into consideration when estimating funeral fees include the headstone, wake, quality of the coffin, flowers, and cars. Here’s a breakdown of funeral costs in the UK to give you an idea of what to expect.
Funeral Director Fees
The vast majority of funerals in the United Kingdom are arranged with the help of a funeral director. Depending on the funeral director or the package of choice, most aspects of the funeral arrangements are covered in funeral director’s fees. Typically, the funeral director fees will cover the following costs:
In general, a funeral director oversees the chosen arrangements before, during, and after the funeral service. Funeral director fees vary from one funeral director to another.
In most cases, the funeral director provides a detailed price list of the costs involved. Be sure to compare quotes from multiple funeral directors to ensure you’re getting the best services possible at cheap funeral costs.
Third-Party Funeral Costs
Aside from the funeral director fees, there are other additional costs that the funeral director will manage on your behalf and attach them to a single invoice. These funeral charges are known as external or third-party funeral costs.
Third-party funeral fees vary greatly depending on where you live and whether you choose a burial service or cremation for your loved one. Common third-party funeral costs include:
Burial Costs: Cremation Costs:
Typically, cremation or burial fees account for more than one-third of the total funeral costs — sometimes up to 50%. Burials cost more than cremations with a large percentage of the extra burial costs coming from ‘internment’ or digging fees plus the Exclusive Right of Burial.
Even if you don’t have to erect one immediately after the burial, families need to consider the cost of a headstone.
Some funeral services or features are considered optional. Fees charged for these services are referred to as optional costs. Optional costs cover special requests as well as added extras. These include a memorial, catering, limousine hire, flowers, venue hire, etc. Averaging at around £824, the memorial cost is usually the standout optional cost.
Who Is Responsible for Funeral Costs?
Funerals can be expensive and the process of arranging a funeral service can be very confusing. While some people can afford to cover the cost of a funeral out-o- pocket, there’s still a large number who can’t. In some cases, the deceased may have already paid for the funeral or has left some money in his/estate to cover it.
In that case, the executor of the estate will cover the funeral cost. Otherwise, a friend or a relative will cover funeral expenses. According to the UK Office of Fair Trading, funeral payments are recoverable from the deceased’s estate. Therefore, friends or relatives can get funeral costs back from the estate if there is enough in it.
Since most banks and building societies will release money from the deceased’s account to cater for funeral expenses, that shouldn’t be a problem. All you need is a certified copy of the death certificate. If there is not enough money to cover the funeral costs in the account, the person organizing the funeral is required to meet the difference.
As previously stated, some people have prior arrangements for the payment of their funeral. Usually, these arrangements are in the form of prepaid funeral plans — sometimes known as funeral insurance. If the deceased had a monthly funeral plan set up with a particular funeral director, the person organising the funeral has to work with that director to arrange the funeral.
Often, prepaid funeral plans don’t cover all the costs associated with a funeral. If you are in charge of organising the funeral, you should be prepared to cover some of these costs yourself. It’s advisable to check exactly what’s covered by the funeral plan before you make any arrangements to avoid confusion.
Here is a useful video that explains more about funeral plans.
How Does One Claim on A Prepaid Funeral Plan?
There is no central place or director to check whether a person who has died had a prepaid funeral plan in the UK, unfortunately. You’ll have to check their papers for a copy of a funeral plan if you think that they had one. Check to see if it was stored at the bank, with a family solicitor, or with the will.
Who Pays for A Funeral If the Deceased Has No Money?
If the deceased doesn’t have an estate, a prepaid funeral plan, or money set aside for a proper send-off, local authorities can step in. The local council or hospital can arrange for a Public Health Funeral under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. Public health funerals, also known as the ‘pauper’s funeral,’ can only be arranged if:
A Public Health Funeral is only held if there’s no other alternative. The local authority decides the time and date of the funeral. This is usually a cremation. There’s a short funeral service and, in this case, extras such as notices in the local newspaper, cars, flowers, etc. are not provided. Anyone can attend the service.
Is There Any Government Support for Funeral Costs?
If you are struggling to cover the funeral cost of a loved one, you may be eligible for assistance with funeral costs from the government. There are two main ways to get government assistance with funeral costs in the UK. These are Funeral Expenses Payment and Bereavement Support Payment from DWP (Department of Work and Pensions).
The Funeral Expenses Payment
If you need assistance with funeral costs, check to see if you are eligible for government funeral grants such as the DWP funeral grant. The DWP funeral expenses payment is a one-off grant for people on a low income who are receiving certain government benefits.
The DWP funeral payment may not cover the whole bill, you may have to cover up to a third of the costs depending on the type of funeral you choose. The DWP funeral grant pays for the following:
You have to be the partner, parent, or close relative of the deceased to apply for the DWP funeral payment. You also have to be on one or more of the qualifying benefits to be eligible for the DWP funeral grant. Qualifying benefits include Housing Benefit, Income Support, Pension Credit, and Universal Credit, among others. You can apply for funeral expenses payment by post, phone, and soon online.
How Do You Claim the Funeral Expenses Payment?
You have six months from the date of the funeral to claim the Funeral Expenses Payment. The average payment received from the DWP grant is £1,200 – £1,300. You might be required to give back the DWP funeral grant if it turns out that the deceased had enough money in his/her estate to cover the funeral costs.
Bereavement Support Payment
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) also provides funeral grants in the form of Bereavement Support Payment. This one-off, tax-free lump sum payment is designed to help widowed partners adjust to the change in household income. You may be eligible for this funeral grant if you are the wife, husband, or civil partner of the deceased.
Even if you’re not on benefits, you can still get government help with funeral costs through the Bereavement Support Payment. Specific amounts vary depending on contributions to National Insurance.
How Do You Claim the Bereavement Support Payment?
This is one of the best ways to get government help with funeral costs even if you are not on benefits. However, as previously stated, you have to be the wife, husband, or civil partner of the deceased.
In addition, applicants also need to be under the State Pension age. If that’s the case, complete and post a Bereavement Support Payment pack to apply.
Budgeting loans are interest-free loans intended to help people on income-related benefits cover the cost of a loved one’s funeral. With a budgeting loan, you will only pay back what you have borrowed and repayment comes directly from your benefits.
You have to be on one or more of the following qualifying income-based benefits to be eligible for a budgeting loan:
You may be eligible for a budgeting loan if your wife, husband, or civil partner has been receiving these benefits for at least 26 weeks. The minimum amount you can get in this form of budget loan is £100. The maximum amount you can receive is £812 if you claim child benefit. You can apply for a budget loan online or by post.
How Can I Get Help with Funeral Expenses If I’m Not on Benefits?
You will not meet eligibility requirements for government assistance with funeral costs if you are not on benefits. However, there are other options to consider including charity and providers offering cheap funeral costs.
There are various charitable organisations offering financial help with funeral expenses for people in different situations.
Who Are the Major Funeral Providers in the UK?
The biggest funeral providers in the UK are Dignity Caring Funeral Services (Dignity Plc) and the Co-operative Group (CWS Ltd). These two companies are involved in over 25% of funerals held in the UK every year. Other major players in the industry are comprised of regional co-op groups and several privately-owned companies.