Dramatic differences in cost of dying just miles apart


UK – Bereaved cutting back on flowers and opting for cheaper coffins to curb the impact of funeral cost inflation

It is meant to be the great leveller but in Britain even death comes with a dramatically different price tag depending on where you live.

New research has exposed wide variations – as extreme as differences in house price – between the cost of funerals and burials in different postcodes.

In some areas, the average cost of a basic funeral and burial can more than double within just 30 miles.

The study by Royal London, the pension provider, also found evidence of bereaved people deliberately cutting back spending on flowers, the wake or mourners’ cars to temper the impact of funeral inflation.

Different rates in different areas

It came as one of Britain’s biggest national funeral chains admitted it charges different rates in different areas.

Overall, the average cost of a basic cost of a funeral including cremation or burial has jumped by four per cent – or £140 – in the last year to stand at £3,702.

Although the typical cost of a basic burial – averaging £4,110 – is still higher than cremation – which averages at £3,294 – the cost of being cremated rose more quickly in the last year.

But the study, which drew on polling, a survey of prices from a sample of crematoria and neighbouring cemeteries and analysis by the price comparison site yourfuneralchoice.com, pointed to dramatic variations between different areas.

Beckenham in Kent emerged as the most expensive place to die with basic funeral costs averaging £5,372 – a figure which jumps to £7,216 for those choosing burial.

By contrast the cost of a basic burial in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, is less than half that in Beckenham at £3,040, just ahead of Belfast, which is listed as the cheapest place in the UK to die, with average prices of £3,027 for funeral and burial and £2,989 for cremation.

In some places, particularly parts of London, a cemeteries are already full and those opting for burial for loved ones are forced to find a plot outside the immediate area, incurring a large extra charge. In Lewisham, south-east London, “non-resident’s” fees have driven the cost of a typical burial to £11,148.

Biggest increase is in funeral directors’ charges

While burial or cremation fees have risen by around £30 on average in the last year, the biggest increase has been in funeral directors’ charges, which jumped by around £110.

But the report points out that while the overall costs are rising faster than inflation, the average amount spent on some items seen as non-essentials, such as flowers and cars, is down while many have been choosing less expensive coffins.

“This suggests that consumers are tightening their belts, and taking more control, perhaps in response to higher costs for non-discretionary items,” it explains.

A spokeswoman for the Cooperative Funeralcare, the UK’s biggest chain of funeral directors, confirmed that its own process can vary by region – something she said the company was looking into.

Simon Cox, a funeral cost expert at Royal London, said: “Our study shows people are striving to meet funeral price hikes, which they have little control over.

“Given the stressful situation, shopping around for a funeral is often not an option.

“Instead people are coping by cutting back on non-essentials if possible, and reconsidering how loved ones are buried.

“The UK funeral system still displays fundamental failings. Vulnerable bereaved people are taking on increased debt; and we predict this problem will worsen if steps are not taken to tackle the many, persistent causes driving up the cost of funerals.”


Author: John Bingham, curated from The not-so-great leveller: dramatic differences in cost of dying just miles apart – Telegraph