31 August 2018

This may seem like a morbid question, but have you ever thought about your funeral?

Based on interviews we carried out with people around the country1, it seems that many of them have, but only in terms of what music they’d like played on the occasion. When we went on to ask whether they’d thought about how much their funeral might cost, most didn’t have an exact figure in mind, but there was a general awareness they’re likely to cost a fair bit, and that they’re not getting any cheaper.

Watch the video to see what people thought.

We’ve taken a look at the costs of funerals region-by-region across the United Kingdom through independent research carried out by Matter Communications for our partner, funeral service provider Dignity. This will give you a pretty good idea of the kind of sums involved. It pays to plan ahead and think about how your loved ones would pay for your funeral. When you’ve spent all your life taking care of your loved ones, the last thing you’d want is to leave them with financial worries.

The cost of a funeral can vary depending on where you are in the country. We've created an infographic that shows the average funeral cost in your region.

  How Much Does a Funeral Cost in the UK  

Total average cost

The overall average total cost for funerals in the UK in 2017 was £4,086. If funeral costs keep going up at the rate they did between 2011 and 2017, the average funeral could cost £5,925 by 20242.

How we've broken the costs down

There are two charges that go to make up the vast bulk of the funeral costs – the fee charged by the Funeral Director for the services they provide, and the third party charges for either burial or cremation (which would include the cost of the service itself, plus the minister or officiant conducting the service). There are likely to be other costs that we haven’t included here, which tend to come down to personal preference – floral tributes and post-funeral gatherings, for example. And just so you know, the same research shows that 77% of funerals in the UK are cremations, while 23% are burials.

Funeral Director fees

First comes what is likely to be the most sizable chunk of the overall cost – the fee charged by the Funeral Director. They earn their fee, though, as their role is very varied and can go on far longer than you expect. They act as the guide through planning and executing the funeral, and the Funeral Director and their staff will ensure all family members are cared for to make a difficult day as easy as possible. You can divide the Funeral Director's role into three stages:

  • Before the funeral, where their role includes collecting the deceased, preparing them for the funeral, helping plan the service, complete with all necessary paperwork, arranging visits to the chapel, offering a choice of coffins, producing orders of service, and advising on a minister or officiant.
  • On the day of the funeral, they ensure everything runs smoothly, that vehicles and pall-bearers are in place, that the funeral procession takes the right route and arrives precisely on time, and that a difficult day is as stress-free as possible.
  • After the funeral, they will keep in touch, advising on next steps regarding ashes, the collection and payment of charitable donations and the arrangement for any memorials.

Their price can vary a great deal, depending on the choices made. There is also some regional variation in price, though perhaps not as much as you might expect, as you can see in the graphic.

Burial third party costs

Burial tends to be a more expensive option than cremation, and there are also significant regional differences in cost, mainly down to the cost of the plot itself. The third party costs can also vary significantly, based on any number of factors. For example, fees can rise if you're not a resident of the area where you wish to be buried.

In the table below are illustrative figures for third party burial costs, though remember that these are averages, and even within the regions shown there can be big variations in price, depending on the cemetery chosen. For example, in Greater London a burial in Enfield could cost you as much as £13,049, well above the area average of £7,703. At the opposite end of the scale is Northern Ireland, where burial is relatively low in price. This is probably because Northern Ireland has comparatively few crematoria, and burial is a more frequent choice than elsewhere.

Cremation third party costs

Third party cremation costs, including the cremation fee itself and the minister or officiant's fee, tend to be quite uniform, making variations in costs across the country quite limited, with the total averaging out at just over £1,000. There can be variations in price between privately owned crematoria and those owned by local councils, and, once again, Northern Ireland is at the cheaper end of the table.

Average regional costs for funerals in the UK

The figures shown in the table below are broken down into separate costs for Funeral Director, cremation and burial. The total average cost for a funeral in each area can be found by adding the Funeral Director’s costs to the cost of cremation or burial, as appropriate.

            Funeral Director costsCremation costBurial cost
 Greater London  £3,543  £1,100  £4,160 
 South East  £3,337  £1,152  £1,883
 South West  £3,013  £1,209  £1,450
 East Anglia  £3,056  £1,136  £1,820
 North West  £3,045  £1,121  £1,674
 Yorkshire & Humber  £3,024  £1,137  £2,082
 North East  £2,877  £1,094  £1,752
 West Midlands  £2,903  £1,029  £2,093
 Scotland  £2,890  £942  £1,728
 East Midlands  £2,708  £1,121  £1,212
 Wales  £2,669  £959  £1,554
 Northern Ireland  £2,642  £750  £709

Time to plan ahead

Even the most modest funeral is likely to cost a tidy sum of money, wherever you live in the UK. It’s a great feeling to know you can provide financial support for your family after you’re gone. Planning ahead and making some preparations now could make life a little easier for them.

Some people make specific provision for funeral costs to be paid from their estate.  However, if funeral costs continue to rise faster than savings grow, it may be necessary to review and increase the amount set aside. So, if you haven’t done so already, it may be a good time to think about other options that can help cover these costs.

Others may take out a pre-paid funeral plan or over 50s life insurance. A pre-paid funeral plan is an option for those who wish to pay for a funeral in advance at today's prices. If you're considering one, ensure you read the information thoroughly as not all plans are the same. For example, some plans guarantee to cover the third party costs outlined in the plan for a cremation funeral, while others only provide a contribution to those third party costs, which means there could still be a bill left to pay.

An over 50s life insurance plan is another way for those that don’t have funds to contribute towards the cost of your funeral.

Over 50s Fixed Life Insurance

Our own Over 50s Fixed Life Insurance Plan is designed to pay a fixed cash sum to your loved ones that can be used to contribute towards your funeral, unpaid bills or even to enjoy as a gift when you’re gone.

If you’re planning to use the cash sum from your Over 50s Fixed Life Insurance Plan to pay towards your funeral, then you can choose to add the Funeral Benefit Option to your Plan at no additional cost. At the time of claim, we will pay your cash sum directly to Dignity Funerals Limited and a Dignity Funeral Director will take care of the arrangements. Plus to help your family even more, there will be an additional £300 contribution from Dignity towards the final cost of your funeral with a Dignity Funeral Director.

In all these cases, planning ahead is key. So, next time you find yourself thinking about the music you’d like to be played at your funeral, perhaps you could also begin to think bigger about your plans, and look into the financial side, too.

1Street interviews carried out on behalf of Legal & General, July 2017.

22024 forecast based on average annual compounded growth rate of 5.45% each year. Independent research by Matter Communications on behalf of Dignity in 2017.