How much does a funeral cost?

In the UK, the current average cost of a funeral service runs at around £4,000. This includes the funeral director fees, the cremation or burial, medical and death certificates and the cost of hiring a minister or celebrant. Funeral enquiries made through Beyond (Formerly Funeralbooker), however, averaged at £2,629 in the year to March 2017.

Around £2,000 is usually spent on items such as floral tributes, a venue for the wake, transport to and from the funeral and death notices in the newspaper. In 2016 alone, burial costs rose by 4.9% and cremation costs by 4.8%, and it appears as though funeral costs are to continue getting more expensive. For this reason, a greater number of people are taking out funeral plans that help them prepare for the future. If you are confused as to where your money is going, remember to ask for a proper breakdown of costs from the funeral director. They should be able to tell you exactly where every penny is being spent and help you tailor the service to meet any financial constraints.

Funeral costs can be broken down into two sections:

  • Disbursement costs (For example, cremation or burial fees, funeral flowers, ceremony fees and similar)
  • Funeral Director Fees

Funeral disbursement costs?

Disbursement simply means the payment of money from a fund or account, but this word is more specifically used to refer to third-party costs paid on your behalf. Disbursements are common in legal and funeral services as both professions have various additional fees added to the overall price.

If you think of the total cost of the funeral being split into two types of payment – one that goes directly to the funeral director and one that the funeral director uses to pay third-parties for any additional services they cannot provide themselves, it is this second type that we refer to as disbursement costs. They can include:

  • Cremation or burial fees, including a grave opening fee
  • Doctors’ certificates
  • Minister or celebrant fees
  • Use of the church or other funeral venue
  • Flowers
  • Catering
  • Order sheets
  • Announcements in a newspaper

It’s always important to be aware of disbursement costs and whether or not they are included in a quoted price. Often, a funeral director will quote a price that does not include disbursements and this can easily add another £800-£1000 on to their price. You also need to think about disbursement costs when taking out a funeral plan, as not all plans cover all of the costs.

It’s worth remembering that not all disbursements are necessary. You don’t have to provide catering, flowers or order sheets for example, but you will almost always have to pay crematorium or cemetery costs.

Looking for help with funeral costs?

How much does a burial cost?

Burial costs on average £1,792. This covers the digging of the grave and the lease of the land. However, inner city burials tend to be significantly more expensive, as space is at a premium, so it’s often a good idea to consider a burial a little further afield.

Woodland burial is far cheaper than conventional burial, and has long been regarded as the most environmentally-friendly funeral. Some of these burial grounds allow the grave to be marked by a small plaque instead of a traditional headstone, some let you plant a tree or flower as a marker and others allow no marking of the grave. There is a selection of natural burial grounds across the country with great environmental credentials. The Natural Death Centre lists woodland burial sites across the country if you would like to find out more about what is available.

How much does a cremation cost?

In April 2017, we undertook a large-scale study of crematorium and cemetery fees in the UK.

According to our data, opting for cremation over burial can be up to £1,000 cheaper, depending on what your local council charges in cremation and burial fees. On average, cremation alone costs £753.

Though the cheapest option is direct cremation, where the body is collected and cremated immediately after death without anyone present and the ashes are then returned to you, it can feel a little impersonal to some people. However, others prefer a ‘back to front’ approach to direct cremation, using the initial cheap direct disposal, and then later putting savings towards a more elaborate send off or memorial service.

Funeral director fees & how to choose the right funeral director for you

When trying to choose a funeral director, it is worth comparing different businesses, as the cost and quality of services can vary enormously. As contacting funeral directors one by one is incredibly time consuming, you might find it easiest to use a comparison tool such as Beyond which outlines the available services in your region.

On our site, you’ll also be able to access user reviews, giving you the opportunity to appraise the quality of service before you select a funeral director. Just because a funeral is expensive does not mean it guarantees a high quality service, so others’ praise or criticism is a useful way of distinguishing those who can provide the right funeral from those that can’t. When you find a funeral director that meets your needs, make sure to discuss in detail the various options before agreeing on any costs or making payments. If you find that you and your funeral director are not on the same page, don’t be afraid to raise your concerns or even walk away.

Find out the average costs of a funeral in your area

Our free and easy to use funeral costs calculator pulls information from our nationwide database of crematorium and cemetery fees, as well as professional funeral director services to give you an indicative funeral cost in your local area:

Can I get help with the funeral costs?

If you’re worried about funeral costs, government assistance called ‘Funeral Payment’ is available for those on a low income. Funeral Payment will cover burial or cremation fees and up to £700 in funeral expenses, such as funeral director fees and flowers. You can also apply for travel expenses to the funeral. However, if you receive any money out of the deceased’s estate to cover funeral costs, the Funeral Payment must be repaid.

Alternatively, you could ask for donations or contributions to the funeral costs from family and friends.

Prepaid Funeral Plans

Funeral plans are a good way of paying for a future funeral at today’s prices. While not all funeral plans will guarantee that they will cover all disbursements, professional fees and services will typically be covered.

If you simply don’t have the cashflow that you need to afford a funeral, funeral finance could be a good option. Effectively, your funeral is paid for upfront and in full, and you then pay it back in installments. This can be a particularly good option if you are waiting for inheritance or life insurance payments to come through.

Full information on Beyond’s funeral finance scheme can be found here.