Funeral costs in UK fall: Latest trends and analysis

Sunlife’s Cost of Dying research shows that London still holds the title of most expensive funeral in the UK: £5,283. That’s a 58% mark-up from the cheap…
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The annual Sunlife Cost of Dying report reveals the cost of a funeral in the UK has fallen 2.5% (year on year). Find out why funeral costs are falling and what it means for families.

SunLife’s research found that for the second year in a row, the cost of an average funeral in the UK has gone down – but the total cost of dying has gone up.

The average cost of a funeral is now £3,953, down from £4,056 in 2021. However, rising professional fees (such as probate) and send-off costs (such as venue hire and catering) have caused the overall cost of dying to increase to £9,200.

This is just shy of the high water mark of £9,263 reported in the early 2020s.

Mark Screeton, CEO at SunLife, commented: “It’s surprising to see, at a time when everything else is going up in price, that funeral costs have fallen for a second consecutive year. We’ve never witnessed this trend before in our almost two decades of research.

“With UK inflation hitting its highest rate in 40 years, this feels like a rare piece of financially positive news among all the other gloomy economic headlines.”

The most expensive place to die

Rank Region Average Funeral Cost Change from Last Year
1 London £5,283 -1.4%
2 South East & East of England £4,300 -10.9%
3 Wales £4,012 +13.3%
4 East and West Midlands £3,892 -1.3%
5 Scotland £3,848 -0.6%
6 North West England £3,832 -0.2%
7 Yorkshire and the Humber £3,742 -13.0%
8 North East England £3,668 -6.3%
9 South West England £3,640 -6.8%
10 Northern Ireland £3,317 +8.5%

Alongside the national average, most UK regions have also seen a drop in funeral costs. Only two areas – Northern Ireland and Wales – have gone up in price.

Despite its increase, Northern Ireland remains the most affordable place to have a funeral in the UK – with the average funeral costing £3,317.

And at £5,283, London yet again has the highest price. That’s a markup of 59% from the least to the most expensive region.

The cost of funerals

Despite the price of a basic funeral falling (-2.5% since 2021), it still makes up the largest portion (43%) of the full cost of dying. At £4,794 (-2.7%), burial is still the most expensive option, whilst a cremation costs £3,673 (-2.4%) on average. 

At £1,511, direct cremations remain the most affordable type of funeral and have even decreased in cost by 8.2% since 2021.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2021, direct cremation became a popular and practical option for many – a trend that’s continued into 2022.

The most dramatic change is the increase in professional fees, which have gone up 10.9% since 2021. We previously saw professional fees decline for several years in a row. 

Mr Screeton went on to say: “The continued fall in funeral costs may, in part, be down to certain trends from the days of lockdown remaining popular, even after the pandemic. Direct cremations, for instance, are a cheaper alternative and became necessary during COVID-19. Yet we’ve seen their levels relatively unchanged since.

“Recent regulation from the Competition and Markets Authority has also ordered funeral directors to display prices on both their premises and website – which wasn’t required before 2021. Some funeral directors told us that, as a result, they’ve reassessed and reduced their prices.

“All this said, we have seen an increase in the total cost of dying from last year, suggesting that the fees and extras associated with funerals are moving in line with the rising prices we’re seeing in most other areas of our lives.

“It’s now becoming more necessary than ever to share your final wishes with loved ones so they don’t end up spending more than you’d want them to. Likewise, making some kind of provision for your own funeral can be a big help to your family at what will be a difficult time.”

Cost of a send-off

Rank Send-off Average Cost Change from Last Year
1 Memorial £1,064 +3.9%
2 Catering £467 +15%
3 Limo Hire £353 +10%
4 Venue Hire £312 +16.4%
5 Flowers £210 +1.8%
6 Order Sheets £105 +0%
7 Funeral Notice £80 -3.6%
8 Death Notice £77 +8.5%

Back in 2021, there was a drop in send-off costs from the year before – in part due to COVID-19 restrictions making celebratory farewells more difficult. However, 2022 marks a post-pandemic ‘bounce-back’ – with total send-off costs up 7.4% to £2,669. In fact, the funeral notice is the only item to have decreased in price.

The memorial remains the most expensive cost at £1,064. However, venue hire (+16.4%) and catering (+15.0%) have seen the most significant year-on-year rises. 

This content is reproduced courtesy of Final Choices, the end of life planning resource. Read original content here.

Tags: , Last modified: May 22, 2023

Written by 1:26 pm News & Views