The Heat Is On As Cremation Costs Soar By 30%


Aug 19, 2015
The Heat Is On As Cremation Costs Soar By 30%

I was shocked to hear on the news this morning that cremation costs have risen by a third since 2010 from £475 to £640.

 

Let’s face it, unless you choose to be buried which can be considerably more expensive, this cost is unavoidable and will undoubtedly increase further over coming years; who knows how much it will cost when I’m at the front of the queue. 

According to a BBC Report out today, these figures are based on the 170 local authority run crematoria in the UK and do not include privately run crematoriums by companies such as Dignity and Co-operative; so in truth these costs could well be even higher. 

So what's behind this increase? 

To comply with new environmental rules, crematoriums have had to invest in new equipment and processes to reduce the amount of pollution, in particular from mercury tooth fillings. 

Tim Morris from the Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management said, "Crematoria have had to completely replace all of their equipment to comply with changes in environmental legislation, the latest being additional equipment to filter pollutants from the waste gases" 

However, Charles Cowling author of the Good Funeral Guide, said that prices were "absurdly high because crematoriums were being run grotesquely inefficiently".

Cremation Costs vary so where you live in the UK will have a significant impact on the overall cost of your funeral. For example a cremation in Cheshire East will currently cost you £495; £360 in Belfast and a whopping £1,040 in Hackney. Are local funeral costs the next thing to appear on property websites such as Rightmove I wonder? Well you can now select your ideal property based on schooling; why not funeral costs?  

What is the average cost of a funeral? 

Of course cremation costs form just one part of the overall cost of a funeral. In 2014 the average price families paid for a funeral was £3,590; a figure that has increased by nearly 7% in the past 10 years; aided by the leap in cremation fees. 

Funeral costs are comprised of the funeral director's services; the coffin, a hearse, cremation or burial fees, minister’s or celebrant’s and doctor’s fees. Having said that a change in legislation earlier this year means you no longer require a doctor’s certificate for cremation services in Scotland; a change that is about to be rolled out throughout England and Wales in the near future which in turn will save approximately £160. 

These figures however don't take into account so called ‘discretionary’ funeral costs, such as flowers, the wake or reception, additional limousines, order of service stationary, local notices and or legal costs for probate services if required. 

What can you do to avoid these escalating costs? 

Planning ahead can mitigate the financial and for that matter emotional burden thrust on families facing the prospect of arranging a funeral. For example you could: 

Start to save up for your funeral now - be aware though that with interest on savings being nearer 1%, this is unlikely to keep up with funeral inflation so a regular top up will be required if you want to keep abreast with funeral costs. 

Cut costs with a "Direct Cremation" – a no frills approach to cremation. There is no service and no one present; the body is simply taken directly from the funeral directors to the crematorium. Whilst this may suit some people, it doesn't give family and friends the chance to say goodbye so may not be an appropriate and viable option for many . 

Buy a life insurance policy – a plan that many people use as a way of helping their family with funeral costs. I’m sure you will have seen the many "Over 50 Life Insurance" TV adverts promoting these products that ensure a cash sum is paid out when you die. 

Get a prepaid funeral plan - growing in popularity, a prepaid funeral plan lets you arrange and pay for your funeral in advance and at today’s prices; not only helping your family financially but also reducing the emotional stress of having to arrange a funeral when the time comes 

Look to the future 

So what lies ahead for us and does the future really look bleak? Well there are two certainties in life; the first harsh reality is that we are all going to die and it’s fair to say that the cost of dying is only going one way and that is up.  

We can hope though that perhaps once crematoriums have invested in their new environmentally friendly equipment that this will in turn give them the opportunity to run more efficiently, leading to price increases that are more in line with inflation or dare I say even a reduction in price. 

Whatever the future holds, today’s article is a stark reminder that dying is an expensive and avoidable business that can be made that bit easier by a bit of forward planning.


Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

ashley shepherd

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