Mourners are struggling with the cost of funeral services according to new research by Royal London. The research shows that 9% of funeral arrangers struggled to meet the cost of the funeral, a decline from 12% in 2019. Of those, more than one in four (27%) took on debt, using a credit card, loan or overdraft, to pay for funeral costs.

The average cost of a funeral pre-Covid-19 was £3,837 with individuals who struggled with the cost borrowing more than £1,700 to pay for the funeral.

Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index report 2020 reveals that three in five (60%) people who have arranged a funeral during lockdown found it difficult to grieve due to Covid-19.

Royal London’s report looked at funeral costs across the UK and found that the average cost of a funeral in 2020 is £3,837. A burial funeral costs more on average at £4,383, and a cremation funeral costs less on average at £3,290.

London has the highest funeral costs in the UK with the average funeral now standing at an all-time high of £5,032. Northern Ireland remains the least expensive region in the UK for a funeral with the average cost being £2,962.

Research shows that 9% of funeral arrangers struggled to meet the cost of the funeral, a decline from 12% in 2019. Of those, more than one in four (27%) took on debt, using a credit card, loan or overdraft, to pay for funeral costs.

The average amount of debt taken to pay for a funeral stands at £1,751, a drop from last year’s all-time high of £1,990. Total funeral debt, also known as funeral poverty, in the UK is at an all-time low of £82.7million.

Louise Eaton-Terry, Funeral cost expert at Royal London, said “Arranging a funeral during the Covid-19 pandemic has made a distressing experience all the more difficult. With limited services available and, as a result of lockdown measures, restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend, arranging a funeral during the crisis has caused additional distress and impacted many families’ ability to grieve.”

“Clearly funerals have looked very different over the last six months but pre-Covid-19 funeral costs rose marginally. Funeral poverty in the UK fell significantly pre-Covid-19, but this is unlikely to be a continuing trend. Unfortunately, we anticipate funeral poverty to rise as a result of the increased death rate and the financial impact the pandemic has had on people.”

Lindesay Mace, Acting Manager of Down to Earth, a project of UK charity Quaker Social Action, said “Funeral poverty has not gone away during the Covid-19 pandemic. While restrictions have led to simpler funerals in many cases, attended cremation services still easily equal at least £2,000-£3,000, with burials often even pricier. Councils across the UK have also continued to increase cremation prices.”

“People contacting our funeral costs helpline increased by 75% during the height of the pandemic. We implemented a triage system operated by volunteers to manage the demand. In addition, we are seeing many people financially affected by lockdown, exacerbating already difficult circumstances and making paying for a funeral even more out of reach. As the recession continues, we expect to see more bereaved people coming to us for help.”