The SunLife Cost of Dying report has found that the average cost of a basic funeral has gone down for the first time in 18 years.

The study notes that funeral costs were down 3.1% in 2021, with an average basic funeral costing £4,054, £128 less than in 2020.

Costs vary across the UK regions, with average costs in London at over £5,000, with a 2.3% rise in prices in 2021, while in Northern Ireland the average cost was £3,000 with prices down 5.2% on the year.

Despite reductions in some areas, prices remain high, around a third more expensive than ten years ago, with SunLife anticipating that prices will rise again year-on-year within five years.

Funeral pricing

From June 2021, funeral directors and those operating crematoria have been required to clearly display a standardised funeral price list both at their premises and on their website to give clarity as to costs. The list should include the headline price of a funeral plus the cost of other items, to include extras such as Orders of Service, limousines and flowers.

Funeral costs and expenses

When additional costs such as professional fees and the cost of a send-off are added to the average basic funeral cost, the figure comes to £8,864. Not surprisingly, many families look to reduce the expense where possible, with the research finding that for over 17% of families, there were notable financial concerns when paying for a funeral.

SunLife’s chief executive Mark Screeton said:

“This year’s Cost of Dying figures are quite different from any other year. For the first time we have seen funeral costs fall, with the average costs of basic funerals, amount spent on the send-off and professional fees all coming down. However, the picture across the country is more varied than we have ever seen too, with some regions seeing sizable increases in the average cost of a funeral, while others have seen quite significant drops.

“Many families have suffered the unexpected loss of loved ones this year and have been left struggling to cover the cost of the funeral – no doubt made even harder due to many households already struggling with lower incomes as a result of the pandemic and restrictions.

“Funerals are still relatively expensive, and half of people arranging a funeral in the last year looked for ways to keep funeral costs down – including choosing a cheaper coffin, spending less on flowers and having the wake at home.”

There has been a significant rise in the number of people choosing a direct cremation, where the deceased is cremated without a funeral and the ashes provided to the family afterwards. The average cost of this service came in at £1,647 and the number of direct cremations in 2021 went up by 18%.

The pandemic has also meant that for many, their plans were affected and they had fewer people attending.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at