Funeral debt almost hits £150million

19th October 2016

The Royal London National Funeral Cost Index reveals funeral debt in the UK has risen to £147million as people borrow from friends and family or the ban to fund the last wishes of loved ones. Royal London’s research highlights that the average cost of a funeral in the UK is now £3,675, with 93,359 adults taking on funeral debt. The average debt being taken on to cover funeral costs is £1,601, which collectively equates to £147m across the UK.

One in seven (15%) said they struggled with funeral costs. Amongst those who struggled, one in four said they borrowed money from family and friends (27%) or went into debt by taking out a loan or going into their overdraft (24%) to pay funeral costs.Data obtained from the Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management highlights the postcode lottery on funeral costs. The cost of a funeral differs depending on where you live in the UK, with charges ranging from £2,917 for a burial in Belfast, to £9,679 for a burial in Kensal Green in London.
Cremation costs are significantly lower in comparison to burials, with Greenock in Scotland (£2,873) being the cheapest.The research also found consumers are using different coping strategies to keep costs down, with 5% choosing to have a direct burial or direct cremation, which is a radically different and cheaper option. While direct cremation and direct burials aren’t offered by the majority of funeral directors, the findings show that there is a clear demand for it.
Commenting on the findings Mona Patel, Royal London’s consumer spokesperson, said “When dealing with the loss of a loved one, the last thing that people need is financial stress as well. It is shocking that more than 90,000 people had to borrow an average of £1,600 simply to give their loved ones a decent send off. It is vital that the Government tackles funeral poverty by addressing the flaws with the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment. This includes the length of time it takes to get a payment which then often falls far short of the cost of the funeral.  The funeral industry also needs to address consumer demand for a simpler and cheaper funeral option, by providing more access to direct cremation and direct burials.”