Funeral costs are continuing to run out of control - leaving many families unable to pay for a send-off for their loved ones. The cost of cremation-based funerals has soared an alarming 10% in a year, and the cost of funerals involving a burial is up 4%.
The OneFamily Funeral Costs tracker found that in the UK between 2014 and 1015, the price of a funeral including cremation was up 10% to £3,572, while the cost of a funeral and burial increased 4%.
The cost of funerals with burials varies dramatically across the country. It's cheapest in Tyrone, Northern Ireland, at £2,510 and highest in Greater London at £8,250.
These price hikes come on the back of eye-watering increases a year earlier. At that point the cost of burials rose by 9% and cremations by 12%. It means that since 2012, the cost of a cremation has risen by more than a fifth - from £2,896 to £3,572.
And this is part of a longer-term rise, which has seen the cost of a simple funeral rise 80% between 2004 and 2014.
A separate study by the International Longevity Centre for OneFamily predicts that the average cost of a basic funeral will reach £5,226 by 2020. It pointed out that the Baby Boomer generation born between 1945 and 1965 are now reaching their later years, and are starting to have an impact on the funeral industry. As the death rate increases by as much as 20%, simple supply and demand will mean the price of funerals rise.
A separate study by SunLife found that 59% of people made provisions to pay for their funeral, and 84% had put aside enough to cover the whole cost - just over a quarter of whom had used a funeral plan.
Among those who had not left enough to cover the funeral, their friends and family had to find an average of £2,449 to cover the shortfall. One in six who had to cover the entire cost themselves said that finding the money had caused them 'notable financial concerns'.
In fact, figures from the British Seniors Insurance Agency found that one in four people left with the bill for a funeral have had to borrow money to pay for it. Shockingly, while some have been able to borrow from family and friends, or a longer term loan, 1.2 million people have borrowed a total of £576 million from payday loan companies to pay for funerals for their loved ones.
What can you do?
It's up to all of us to think about our own funeral, and consider the best way to pay for it. OneFamily has a funeral costs calculator, which can help you understand the cost in your area. The organisation also offers insurance products to help cover the cost. This is one approach - although it's worth shopping around for a plan that suits you. Alternatively, you can make sure you set aside enough money from your estate to cover the cost of a funeral.
It's equally important to talk to your family about your needs. The SunLife study found that 99% of people have no idea what their loved ones wanted at their funeral. Only one in seven knew the kind of coffin to choose, and only a third knew whether to go for cremation or burial. If you are happy for your family to make cost-effective choices, then it's essential you tell them, so they don't go into thousands of pounds of debt, paying for a funeral you never wanted.