Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index 2017: key findings

How much does a funeral cost? Funeral Choice contributed to the fourth annual study of funeral costs in the UK, and it reveals a lot about what people can expect to pay when organising a funeral today.

Analysing data from a variety of sources, the recent National Funeral Cost Index shows that the average funeral has risen – from £3,675 in 2016 to £3,784 in 2017. In addition, the average debt taken on by customers struggling to pay for a funeral has risen ­– from £1,601 in 2016 to £1,680 in 2017. This year’s figures represent an increase £375 since Royal London started its annual study in 2014.

The index also examined the difference in cost for burials and cremations, finding the average cost for a burial is £4,257 while average cost for a cremation is £3,311. So how should you approach funeral arrangements when it comes to cost? While the price of services can vary greatly depending on where you live, the index identifies a few key areas you might want to consider when looking at your budget.

What do people spend their budget on?

While the 2016 index found people where scaling back on discretionary spending on funerals – things like posting an obituary – the 2017 results demonstrate that spending has increased. In fact, the amount spent on flowers was the only figure that had not gone up between 2016 and 2017, which might signal the increasingly common practice of suggesting mourners make a donation to charity instead of giving blooms.

Customer spending on discretionary funeral items:

Venue hire and catering costs have increased by 10% from 2014, prompting Royal London to speculate that: “Despite the increase in new, lower cost funeral options, this demonstrates the continued desire for mourners to give their loved ones ‘a good send-off’.”

Whatever kind of funeral ceremony you want to plan, when it comes to thinking about all of these elements, it’s useful to set a budget and stick to it.

The price of a funeral director

The index offers an interesting insight into the role of funeral directors, highlighting the crucial part they play in providing support and advice. Their fees might have increased by 2.1%, which is however below the rate of overall UK inflation, but it seems the guidance they offer is invaluable to many people – more than 60% of those surveyed said that they received support from a funeral director, which is a higher percentage than any other source of advice, including friends and family (at around 50%).

Keeping costs down

The index found that there is a demand for a lower cost alternative to the traditional funeral, and there are a number of ways that you can stay within budget. One of the most important is to talk to a variety of funeral directors to find the best one for you.

Some funeral directors have launched their own basic funerals, while others have created facilities in which to provide a ceremony on their own premises, rather than at a church or crematorium.

And it really does pay to shop around, as the index found the difference between the highest and lowest funeral director cost (in the same area of the UK) was £2,365. But despite this gap, only 6% of people surveyed said they got quotes from more than one funeral director, and the vast majority of people (89%) went with the first funeral director they contacted.

Many people plan a funeral with the help of a funeral directors, and they are uniquely placed to discuss the increasing range of options available – whatever budget you are working with. Click here to use our online comparison tool and to find a funeral director in your area.

Click here to read the Royal London report in full


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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service

What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family

Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.


Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.