What is the cost of dying in the UK in 2020?


What is the cost of dying in the UK in 2020? main image

What is the cost of dying in the UK in 2020?

The cost of dying in the UK is now £9,493; an increase of 62% over the last decade. According to the Sunlife Cost of Dying report 2020, this increase which includes funeral expenses, professional fees and ‘send-off’ costs is slowing, however worryingly is still financially beyond many peoples reach.

But what is the total cost of dying in the UK and is there anything we can do to reduce the amount we will pay for a funeral?

What is the cost of dying?

The cost of dying looks at the total cost of death in the UK, not just the cremation or burial. Therefore, in addition to the funeral, the total cost of dying also includes professional fees for administering the estate and average ‘send-off’ costs such as the wake.

At 47%, the biggest percentage of these costs is comprised of funeral expenses, with professional fees accounting for 29% and send-off costs such as flowers, memorials, venue hire and catering making up the remainder.   

The Sunlife Cost of Dying Report 2020

The Sunlife Cost of Dying report tracks the cost of funerals on an annual basis. Launched in 2004 by leading UK insurance company Sunlife, the research is based on a survey of 1,503 adults who have planned a funeral in the last 4 years and a panel of funeral directors.

Which costs have increased?

The biggest increase in the cost of dying is the send-off fees averaging £2,306, having risen by 11.9% over the year. These more personal additions to the basic cost of a funeral include:

  • Memorial fees - £910
  • Catering costs - £408
  • Limousine hire - £313
  • Venue hire - £245
  • Flowers - £184
  • Order sheet and service cards - £88
  • Death notices - £82

Whilst these rising funeral costs may represent a general price increase across each industry, it could also suggest that families are comfortable spending more on the funeral and wake than in previous years.

Basic funeral costs have also risen by 3.4% to an average cost of £4,417; a 130% increase since Sunlife first started reporting on the cost of dying in the UK in 2004. Cremation remains the cheapest funeral option with an average of £3,858 with burial at £4,975.

Basic funeral costs include:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • funeral director’s costs
  • Doctor’s fees for a second death certificate if required
  • Minister or officiant’s fees for conducting the funeral service

Which costs have decreased?

Although most funeral related services have increased in price in the Cost of Dying report, there is some good news. Professional fees for administering the estate have dropped by 3.5% to £2,771 and the average cost of direct cremation has also fallen by 5% to £1,626.

Unfortunately, the survey continues to highlight the lack of awareness when it comes to direct cremation, which is a cremation without a funeral service.

Of those surveyed, only 52% were aware of this simple cremation option. However, once they were informed, 42% said they would consider a direct cremation for their own funeral, which could signify a huge shift for the industry in years to come.  

Where is the most expensive place to die?

The most expensive place to die in the UK is London at £5,963, although costs have risen at a much slower rate compared to other regions. The following list completes the table of most expensive places to die in the UK however costs for the South West of England have actually fallen by 3.5%:

  • South East & East of England - £4,881
  • Yorkshire and the Humber - £4,656
  • East and West Midlands - £4,582
  • South West of England - £4,552

Where is the cheapest place to die?

The cheapest place to die continues to be Northern Ireland with average costs of £3,489. Although this is 21% lower than the national average, it still represents an 8% increase against the previous year.

What can you do to reduce your cost of dying?

The cost of dying continues to increase annually and whilst its good news that the rate is slowing down, forecasts for the future remain bleak. However regardless of whether you are pre-planning your funeral or arranging a funeral for someone else, you can cut the cost of dying in the following ways:

  • Be realistic - Only spend what you can afford
  • Consider all the options such as direct cremation
  • Shop around for the right funeral director and compare prices
  • Choose an earlier time for the cremation as they tend to be cheaper
  • Don’t hire limousines if they’re not needed
  • Choose a simple, cheaper coffin
  • Don’t hire a huge venue for the wake or spend a fortune on flowers
  • Do your own catering and keep things simple

Above all it’s important to tell your family what you want. If you want a simple affair that isn’t going to break the bank tell them so they can avoid additional financial pressure when the time comes.



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