The average mourner in the UK borrows £1,700 to pay for a loved one’s funeral costs, new research has suggested.
The National Funeral Cost Index study by Royal London found that funeral debt in the UK is at £131m with people taking on an average of £1,744 of debt to pay for a funeral, an all time high. On average a UK funeral costs £3,757, a six percent increase over the last five years, with the most expensive burial costing £12,000 at London’s Kensal Green cemetery.
In London, the average funeral cost has risen to £4,838, making it the most expensive place to die in the UK, the cheapest was found to be Northern Ireland, where the average Belfast funeral costs £2,950.
One in 10 people took on debt to pay for a loved one’s funeral according to the research. Of those who struggled with funeral costs, three in 10 borrowed money from friends and family and one in five took on debt. One in 10 people continue to sell possessions to give their loved ones a decent send-off.
Families struggling with funeral costs could be entitled to help from the government to pay for necessary costs but the research found that the support offered is “inadequate”. Funeral director’s fees, a coffin, hearse and collection and care of the deceased are not seen as necessary costs by the government and only up to £700 is offered to bereaved families to cover costs. This leaves bereaved families with an average shortfall of £1,500 if they use the services of a funeral director.
Royal London’s funeral cost expert, Louise Eaton-Terry, said: “High funeral costs have left many families taking on a mountain of debt, with our research showing a huge increase in the amount being borrowed by the bereaved over the last five years. More support needs to be offered to families struggling to pay for funeral costs, and as a result being forced into debt.
“The funeral payment is seriously lacking, and it’s shocking that the government do not consider funeral director’s fees and a coffin to be a “necessary” cost. We want the social fund to cover the cost of a basic funeral, as no one should have to struggle to give their loved ones a decent send-off.”