The average price of a funeral dropped by 0.7% (£27) last year to £3,757, with 12% of respondents being in debt of over £1,700.
The biggest contributors to increased costs in the last year were cremation fees, which increased by 4.9% to £792 compared with £755 in 2017 and burial fees, which increased by 6.1% to £1,960 for residents compared with £1,847 last year. Both rates of increase were ahead of overall inflation of 2.3% in the last twelve months.
These increases were largely offset by a decrease in funeral director costs, which fell by 4.5% in the last year to £2,153 compared with £2,254 in 2017. This reflects developments in the corporate funeral director market with Dignity cutting their fees by 25% and the Co-op holding their fees constant over the last year.
However it found regional disparities have increased over the last year, with the difference between the average cost of the most and least expensive locations standing at around £4,500 compared with £3,500 last year. Belfast retains its place as the cheapest location in the UK for a funeral, with burials at £3,050 with an average cost of £2,950.
The most expensive services remain in London and the surrounding area, with Kensal Green maintaining its position as being the most expensive place to buried in the UK at £11,857 with an average cost of £7,489.
Abi Pattenden, president of the National Association of Funeral Directors, said: “The findings of Royal London show that funeral directors of all shapes and sizes, across the UK, are playing their part in ensuring funerals are affordable, by either holding or reducing their prices.
“It also shows that funeral directors’ costs are reducing as a proportion of the overall cost of a funeral, as a result of the unchecked growth of other costs – such as local council burial and cremation fees.”