Funeral costs in the UK

Losing a loved one is never easy and paying for a funeral and other associated costs can only add further stress. The average cost of a funeral in the UK continues to climb, placing financial strain on many families. Understanding all the costs that come with organising a funeral and wake for your loved one can help you plan ahead and make informed decisions during a difficult time.

What is the average cost of a funeral in the UK?

According to research by SunLife, the average cost of a basic funeral in the UK is roughly £4,141, whereas the total cost of dying comes closer to £9,658. This includes everything from purchasing a burial plot to arranging a coffin or casket and hiring a funeral director, along with other expenses such as organising a wake.

Burial costs

Burial plots in the UK cost between £1,500-5,000 though this depends on a few factors.

  • Location - where the burial plot is located will play a significant role in the price. For example, plots in popular urban cemeteries are substantially higher than in more rural locations.
  • Residency status - those living within a particular area may be charged a lower price than those living outside of the same area. For example, in the London Borough of Hounslow a single plot costs residents £913 but non-residents would be charged £2,738.
  • Type of plot - cemeteries provide a variety of burial options, from single plots and double plots to family plots, which all come with different costs. For example, a single plot in the London Borough of Hounslow is listed at £913 whereas a double plot costs around £1,068.

Cremation costs

Similar to a burial, cremation costs vary. The first thing to consider is which type of cremation you’re considering.

  • Direct cremation - the body of the deceased is cremated straight away, without any service or ceremony. The average cost of a direct cremation is £1,498.
  • Cremation with service - a formal service or ceremony is organised before the cremation takes place. The average cost of cremation with service is £3,795.

Coffin and casket costs

A coffin or casket in the UK can cost from £170 and up to £10,000, depending on the type and materials. For example, the cheapest coffin starts at around £170, though higher quality customised caskets can cost more. Solid oak caskets and metal alternatives can cost anywhere from £450-£10,000. Unique personalisation beyond wood or alloy, such as engraving, can also impact cost. It’s worth noting that different retailers will charge varied rates depending on the quality of materials.

Hiring a funeral director’s services

According to Legal & General, the average cost of a funeral director in the UK is £2,953 although this can vary depending on location and needs. You might also find that larger firms charge higher fees than freelance directors operating independently. While the costs are high, it’s important to consider the support and expertise they provide. Funeral directors oversee body collection and care, paperwork completion, planning arrangements, conducting ceremonies, follow-ups, and everything in between. Plus they can relieve you of making difficult choices when you lose a loved one.

Wake costs

Following the funeral, a wake is a reception where you and close friends and family can celebrate the life of a loved one. Just like the funeral itself, navigating the cost of a wake can feel overwhelming. Here’s a list of things to consider when arranging a wake:

  • venue hire;
  • catering;
  • drinks;
  • decorations;
  • invitations; and
  • entertainment such as music or a photo slideshow.

The average cost of a wake in the UK is around £2,768 but how much you pay will vary, depending on the factors mentioned. For example, catering options vary from sandwiches and buffets to sit-down meals and each come with a different cost. One way to cut back on costs could be to forgo a venue and host the wake in your home or garden if you’re able to.

What can I do to keep costs down?

  • Shop around - compare prices from different funeral directors, as their fees can differ significantly.
  • Consider a direct option - direct cremations, without a ceremony or attendance, are a more affordable choice starting at around £1,500.
  • Explore financial support - the government offers Funeral Expense Payments to eligible individuals, and some charities can also offer assistance.
  • Pre-paid plans - these can offer peace of mind and potentially lock in lower costs, but be sure to compare terms and understand potential limitations.

Remember, it’s about honoring your loved one and, while costs are a consideration, there are ways to ease the financial burden. Make sure you’re having open and honest conversations with family members about their wishes in advance, and you seek support if needed.

All figures taken from the SunLife Cost of Dying Report, 2024.

Find out more on The Pension Confident Podcast

Listen to episode 20 of The Pension Confident Podcast and hear from our guests as they discuss power of attorney, [wills]/pensions-explained/family-and-care/writing-a-will), and inheritance tax. You can also watch the episode on YouTube or read the full transcript.

Risk warning

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

Last edited: 06-04-2024

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