Funeral costs: More than one in ten struggling
People on low incomes are increasingly finding that the death of a loved one plunges them into serious and long term debt, according to new research by Royal London (PDF file size 692kb).
The average cost of a funeral is now £3,702 an above inflation rise of 3.9 per cent or £140 on last year, according to the new survey. Around one in ten people are now struggling with funeral expenses, says the life insurance and pensions firm.
Royal London’s 2015 National Funeral Cost Index indicates that cremation costs rose more than burials last year, up 4.2 per cent to £3, 294 compared to 3.7 per cent and £4,110.
The price you pay for funerals also depends on where you live, with a cremation in Greenock costing just £2,976 compared to £7,216 in Beckenham.
Funeral costs rose the most in Wales last year – up by 5.2 per cent compared with a rise of just 2.4 per cent in Scotland. On a regional basis, costs rose most in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside by over 4% in both regions.
In light of the findings, Royal London is urging policy-makers to look at the underlying, interrelated issues that are causing funeral cost rises – including the scarcity of burial plots and the inadequate Social Fund Funeral Payment system. It wants a full and fundamental review of the Fund - the UK’s state benefit designed to help those struggling with funeral debt.
It's urging Government to work with industry experts to find better outcomes for bereaved UK citizens - a benefit system which is fast, simple, sympathetic, valuable and economical; one which protects both vulnerable claimants and the tax payer from unreasonable costs.
Simon Cox, a funeral cost expert at Royal London said: “A loved one’s funeral can be expensive - a major (and sometimes unexpected) outlay, costing thousands of pounds. The rising cost of an average UK funeral is very concerning; it’s outstripped inflation considerably for many years –almost in line with house price rises, which as we know continue to rise rapidly as demand outstrips supply.
“The UK funeral system still displays fundamental failings, which we reported last year. 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.”
Heather Kennedy, Campaign Manager for Fair Funerals said: “The social Fund Payment was designed to cover the cost of a basic funeral for people on low incomes where there was no other relative with the means to pay. Over the past 12 years we’ve seen the fund erode and further to the point where even those who are eligible will only receive enough to cover around 35 per cent of the price of the basic funeral.
“The result is people are left struggling with very substantial debts they often have no way of clearing, often the worst at the worst time of their life. Bereaved people on low incomes have been overlooked by the government for long. As a price of funerals rises further beyond what people can reasonably afford, central government must set out a credible plan to help people on low incomes provide a dignified funeral when someone dies”
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If you are recently bereaved, our Your Situation: Bereaved section has information about ways you might be able to get help.
You can also check your benefit entitlement using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator or find out whether you are eligible for charitable grant using our Turn2us Grants Search.
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Source: Royal London press release