On launching a major inquiry into funeral costs, the full results of which are due in June, the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) said the price of essential elements has increased by more than two thirds in the last ten years.
It added: “Customers could save over £1,000 by looking at a range of choices in their local area.”
The average cost of a funeral in Southend-on-Sea last year was £4,701, in Colchester it was £3,978 and in Chelmsford £3,950, according to funeral services provider Beyond which offers a comparison service for funeral directors in Essex.
So what do you actually need to pay for and where can savings be made?
What’s involved in funeral costs?
About a third of the overall cost of a fairly standard funeral will be the cremation or cemetery fee, which is set by the owner of the facility. Cremations are typically much less expensive than burials.
In addition, there will be a fee for the services provided by your funeral director. These include collecting the person who has died, care and preparation of the deceased and the overall organisation of the funeral.
Other costs you are likely to incur include car hire, catering, flowers, a venue for the wake, a funeral notice and obituary and order of service sheets. These costs will vary greatly dependent on personal choices.
For cremation, additional costs may include an urn, at between £50 and £300, doctors’ fees for cremation forms (£164) and a charge to bury the ashes in a cemetery, if you wish, of between £100 and £1,700.
Part of the additional expense of burials is due to the usual need for two separate payments – that for internment (digging) and the ‘exclusive right to burial’, which is a fee paid to the owner of the cemetery for the land.
In addition, a headstone is likely to cost £800 to £5,000.
Ways to save on funeral costs
There are ways to bring funeral costs down. Here are a few things to consider:
- Choosing a less popular time for a funeral, such as a weekday or early in the morning, may lead to a lower rate.
- Ask for details of all the fees and charges within the package you’re offered by your funeral director and see if there are more economical options – such as a more simple coffin.
- Ask if the funeral director you approach is independent or part of a larger chain – it isn’t always obvious. The CMA said: “While some smaller funeral directors have sought to keep their prices low, other providers – the larger chains in particular – have implemented policies of consistently high year-on-year price increases.”
Help with funeral costs
For those on certain benefits, there is some Government help with funeral costs in the form of the Funeral Expenses Payment.
Only those who had a specified relationship to the deceased can claim the payment and it will only cover specific costs. It will probably not cover everything. Further details and eligibility criteria can be found via: Funeral Expenses Payment.