You might want to sit down: funeral debts hit astonishing highs

We’ve gone £150 million into debt paying for funerals

Statue of weeping woman on a grave

The total amount we have borrowed to pay for funerals has hit £147 million, as almost 95,000 people have been slapped with a huge and unexpected funeral bill, and had no choice but to borrow in order to afford it. It's a sign of how ridiculously out of hand the cost of funerals has become.

The latest Royal London National Funeral Cost Index found that the average funeral now costs £3,675, and we are borrowing £1,601 to cover the cost.

One in seven people said that they had a nasty shock when faced with the bill, and struggled to find the cash. As a result, one in four of them borrowed money from family and friends, and another quarter either had to take out a loan or use their overdraft to cover the cost.

In some areas, the problem is even worse. Data from the Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management found that the most expensive place for a burial is in Kensal Green in London, which charges £9,679. Even the cheapest, in Belfast, costs £2,917.

Cremations are marginally cheaper, but the most expensive is in Beckenham at £3,471, and even the cheapest in Greenock in Scotland costs £2,873.

The most expensive places for a funeral
Kensal Green
Golders Green
East Finchley
Kingston upon Thames
Manor Park

What can you do?

Mona Patel, Royal London's consumer spokesperson, is horrified. She says: "When dealing with the loss of a loved one, the last thing that people need is financial stress as well. It is shocking that more than 90,000 people had to borrow an average of £1,600 simply to give their loved ones a decent send off."

She is calling on the government to act, saying: "It is vital that the Government tackles funeral poverty by addressing the flaws with the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment. This includes the length of time it takes to get a payment, which then often falls far short of the cost of the funeral. The funeral industry also needs to address consumer demand for a simpler and cheaper funeral option, by providing more access to direct cremation and direct burials."

For people struggling to pay, Nick Willcocks, co-ordinator at, says that while everyone is keen to do the best for their loved ones, there is money to be saved by thinking carefully about your choices. He says: "There are affordable options available across the UK, and with a little looking around it is possible to find firms that will meet your budget. We encourage individuals to speak to two or three firms directly, get a feel for them and then make a choice."

"An increasing number of people are choosing to separate the cremation from the celebration of life and through direct cremation this invariably provides a more affordable but no less dignified alternative to a traditional, attended funeral."

But what do you think? Would you want your loved ones to spend this sort of money on your funeral? And are you saving to cover the cost yourself? Let us know in the comments.

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