The financial services company, SunLife, has revealed that the average cost of dying in the UK has decreased for the first time since it began researching dying costs in 2004.

The average cost of dying in 2021 was £8,864 – down 4.3 percent since 2020. In addition, the costs of the average basic funeral have also reduced, dropping 3.1 percent since 2020 to £4,056.

SunLife calculates the cost of dying according to the total costs of a funeral, which includes the service, professional fees and the optional extras such as a wake, catering, flowers, etc., and in 2021, this was £8,864, compared to £9,263 in 2020.

Direct cremation price rise

It’s not all good news, however, as the most affordable type of funeral—a direct cremation—did rise in cost by 6 percent to £1,647. SunLife notes that the most dramatic change in funeral costs this year is the fall in professional fees, which have dropped 8.7 percent since 2020, to £2,325 and making up just over a quarter (26.2 percent) of the total costs of dying.

Another effect has been the pandemic. Send-off costs – flowers, catering – also decreased to £2,484 (-1.9 percent). Social distancing and the restrictions curtailed the numbers allowed to attend funerals through much of 2021.

In 2020 and 2021, funeral services changed drastically, with 85 percent of people who had to organise a funeral in the period February 2020 to July 2021 saying social distancing measures had an impact, and 83 percent of funerals had fewer attendees, while 75 percent had no hugging or comforting of relatives and friends.

Virtual funeral services

In addition, 14 percent of funerals had to take place virtually.

The SunLife report also looked at the industry, with 97 percent of funeral directors saying they’ve been affected by the pandemic, and only 53 percent agreed that they had been supported by the Government.

When asked what they thought the long-term impact of Covid-19 might be, funeral directors said they expected services and gatherings to be smaller, direct cremations to continue to gain in popularity and for people to continue to record and stream funerals for others to see.

When it comes to paying for funerals, some 66 percent of people made provisions specifically for their funeral before they died, an increase of 2 percent since last year. But only 63 percent of people put enough aside to cover all the costs and in 2021, 17 percent of families said they experienced significant financial concerns when paying for a funeral.

Finders International is an award-winning probate research firm.  Our regulations and credentials include the IAPPR, Friends Against Scams, we are approved APSE partners and are the first probate research firm to be approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).  For a full list of our credentials, please visit our website here.  Alternatively, you can call +44(0) 20 7490 4935 or email [email protected]