- Booking with a funeral director from a major chain costs almost £1,500 more than choosing an independent firm
- ‘Chain premium’ of 65% has helped drive average funeral prices up by more than £1,000 since 2016
- Independent funeral directors have actually DROPPED their fees in last two years
The chains who dominate the UK funeral market are charging an eye-watering 65% more than independent providers on average, exclusive research by funeral comparison website Beyond reveals today.
The leading chains, who make up one-third of the market, now charge on average £3,771 for their funeral director services, the study shows. The same services from an independent funeral director cost on average just £2,287, meaning that there is now a ‘chain premium’ of a staggering £1,484 (65%) on average.
Table: 2018 UK average funeral director costs, Independent vs Chain
|Funeral Director||Independent||Chain||% difference|
The research found that independent funeral directors have actually dropped their fees by 1% since 2016. Despite this, overall funeral costs have soared by a third in the same period.
The overall average funeral price in the UK is now £4,245, once the cost of cremation or burial has been added to the funeral directors’ fees. When Beyond conducted similar research in 2016, this was only £3,190 – meaning the average funeral price has risen by 33% in just two years.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced in May that it was looking into price transparency in the UK funeral market, amid growing concerns that consumers are being exploited, while a debate on Funeral Poverty is set to take place in the House of Commons tomorrow afternoon (September 11), led by Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck MP.
James Dunn, co-founder of Beyond, comments:
“The most disappointing thing about the ‘chain premium’ is how unsurprising it is. Chains have a stranglehold in many areas across the country and it is not always apparent which funeral directors are independents.
“This reduces transparency and makes it even harder for consumers to compare costs.
“Most people would like to know if they are using an independent, local firm and, at around £1,500 cheaper on average, could also save a lot of money. It’s well worth asking funeral directors if they are part of a large chain and it’s crucial consumers shop around.”
 Beyond research from 1,039 independent funeral directors and 801 branches of chain funeral directors, which have been weighted in the average calculations to reflect their overall market share.
Average funeral services calculated as: funeral director fees, basic wood veneer coffin, urn, flowers, celebrant/minister, hearse and one limousine
 Table: Independent Funeral Director changing costs
|Independent FD cost||£2,304||£2,287||-1%|
 Table: Rising costs of UK funerals since 2016 (combined chain & independent)
|Funeral Director + Cremation||£2,937||£3,946||34%|
|Funeral Director + Burial||£3,740||£4,893||31%|
* Average overall funeral prices are weighted 70% for cremation, 30% for burial; cremations account for at least 70% of all funerals in the UK.