Many people start organising a funeral with very little idea of what it might cost, so we’ve outlined the main elements you might want to consider when drawing up your budget.
How much is the average funeral?
The Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index found the average funeral in the UK in 2020 was £3,837, compared to £3,786 in 2019. But what do these costs cover, and is it possible to make savings?
Whatever type of funeral arrangements you choose, costs can vary even within the same location. But by sourcing quotes from more than one funeral home or director and looking at cost-effective alternatives, it is possible to make savings.
How to reduce the cost of a funeral
Cremation or burial?
The recent National Funeral Cost Index examined the difference in cost for burials and cremations, finding the average cost for a burial is £4,383 while average cost for a cremation is £3,306. A direct cremation, where the person who has died is collected from a mortuary during working hours and cremated at a convenient time, could help save you more. It helps to think of this option as a scaled back version of a cremation. There is no ceremony beforehand, but you can collect the ashes and hold a ceremony at a place and later date of your choosing.
Funeral director or no funeral director?
Arranging the funeral yourself instead of using a funeral director can be another way to save money. When paying for a funeral, keep in mind the important role a funeral director can play in ensuring the ceremony goes smoothly and offering support and guidance during a difficult time.
The National Funeral Cost Index found the typical funeral cost can vary greatly on a regional level and on a local level, so shop around and compare quotes when it comes to selecting your funeral director, caterer and florist. We can put you in touch with reputable funeral directors in your local area, helping you to understand a funeral cost breakdown.
Ask for help
Following a death, it’s likely that people around you will want to offer their help. Take them up on the offer of help by asking friends and family to assist with food and drink for after the ceremony. Someone might even be able to offer their home as a venue for people to gather after the funeral.
In the UK, there is no legal requirement to use a coffin at a funeral, however, the law requires that the body must be covered in a public area and most crematoriums will expect you to use a coffin or a shroud. Opting for a shroud means simply laying piece of fabric over the body, and this can be decorated with flowers and other mementoes. Burial costs can be reduced with low-cost coffin options including veneer and chipboard, and biodegradable material such as willow, and cardboard.
Natural burial ground
This style usually incurs a lower burial fee compared to a traditional cemetery. To find a natural burial ground, visit the Natural Death Centre website.
The cost of cremation can be lowered by picking a less popular time slot, for example an early morning or a weekday. In addition, council-run crematoriums tend to be cheaper than private crematoriums.
Remember that you can still create a beautiful ceremony that gives the deceased a respectful tribute and offers friends and family a chance to say goodbye without spending lots of money.
Funeral Costs: The Different Costs which make up a Funeral
Planning a funeral is extremely difficult, because you will be grieving for your loved one and the last thing you want to think about is arranging finances. However, with the cost of funerals rising, it’s important you understand the financial implications of a funeral ceremony as you don’t want to get into debt.
If you’ve never planned a funeral for somebody before, you may not understand the whole process and why you have to liaise with a number of different companies and individuals. When your next of kin passes away, you have to contact a lot of officials including the local authority to register the death, a legal professional to deal with the Will and a funeral director.
Everybody involved with the funeral or the body in any way needs to be paid. The bulk of the funeral fees will be paid to the funeral director as they arrange the majority of the funeral. However there are third-party costs involved too. We’ve provided a detailed breakdown of funeral costs below to help you understand who you will be paying and why. This is just a general idea because of course, every funeral is different and has a different budget.
Funeral Cost Breakdown
Funeral directors fees
When you choose a funeral director be sure to check the costs. These fees include the collection and care of the body, the cost of the coffin and the hearse or any other transport required on the day of the funeral. In 2020, an average funeral cost £3,837.
In many parts of the UK you will be charged a fee from the doctor who signs the death certificate. The average cost is £164.
Burial or cremation fees
The second largest cost in planning funeral is the fee for cremation or burial. This is paid to the local council rather than the funeral director, and the fees vary greatly depending on where you live. The cost of a burial plot is considerably higher than paying for a cremation. Some Brits are paying up to £4,383 to bury a loved one, while the national average for cremation fees is £835 (Don’t forget this is on top of the funeral directors fees). The cheaper option is a direct cremation, but this is carried out without a service.
Whoever runs the funeral service, whether it is religious or not, will charge a fee. This average cost is £158, but you still need to factor it into the overall cost of the funeral.
If you are worried about the cost of the funeral for a loved one, or the financial burden of your own death, find out about the bereavement payment.
Our online comparison tool is a great way to understand the costs and make contact with funeral directors in your area.
Updated: Sept 29th 2021 – additional information with breakdown of funeral costs