Steep rise in crowdfunded funeral

reading time 3 minutes

New figures, shared exclusively by Sky News, have shown there has been a surge in crowdfunded funerals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April this year, the donation platform GoFundMe saw a 192% year-on-year rise in the number of pages where people sought to raise money in the “memorial and funeral” category. The rise represented a near-tripling in 12 months.

In May 2020, the year-on-year rise was 143%. By June, it was 104%.

‘Large number of unexpected deaths’

Deborah Smith, from the National Association of Funeral Directors, told Sky News that what they were seeing at the moment was a large number of unexpected deaths. Some people were losing more than one person at one time and the deaths coincided with a period of huge economic uncertainty.

The combination of factors means that for some people, funerals are too costly to fund by themselves.

In 2019, the average cost of a funeral in the UK was about £4,000.

Fixed fees to be met

Although funerals were scaled back during the pandemic with strict limits on numbers allowed to attend, their cost has remained largely the same. Fixed fees such as the coffin, a doctor in some cases, the burial or cremation and the funeral director still must be met.

The government offers support for those on certain benefits, but it does not cover the full amount. Funeral expenses are usually deducted from the value of someone’s estate–although this can vary wildly.

The article on Yahoo News quoted a Lee Dillon whose father, Anthony, died recently at the age of only 53. He told Sky News his father had been his hero and he missed him terribly. However, working out how to pay for his funeral had added stress to the whole upsetting experience.

‘Insane’ amount

Lee said the amount of money needed was “insane” and that he had considered selling a kidney. He wanted to give his father the best possible send-off. Lee, like many members of Anthony’s family, found himself furloughed from his job and struggling to make ends meet.

His cousin Chelsea set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for her uncle’s cremation. Within days, they passed their £1,000 target.

Lee described it as “overwhelming” and that it made him humble. His cousin said they wouldn’t have been able to afford the funeral without others’ generosity.

Call for government support increase

David Collingwood, the director of funerals at Co-op Funeralcare, is among those now calling for the government support to be increased. He warned government support doesn’t cover most funeral directors’ fees so families are still left with substantial sums to pay.

He also pointed out that if someone was a fulltime student and had to shell out for their parent’s funeral, they would not be entitled to support.

The National Association of Funeral Directors is also calling on the government to increase support for struggling families.

Ms. Smith said people often went ahead with a funeral before they knew if they would get the support. Generally speaking, less than half of those who applied were able to get a grant.

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions claimed providers of funeral services such as the church, funeral directors, local authorities and owners of crematoriums all had their part to play in ensuring funerals were accessible for all.

 

The Finders International Funeral Fund can be used by local authorities or health boards to subsidise payment towards the cost of Public Health Act (PHA) funerals. These will be cases where there genuinely are no known next of kin (rather than next of kin simply refusing to pay) and Finders will carry out research to confirm this. Phone us on freephone 0800 085 8796 to find out more.