FUNERAL COSTS IN WALES RISING HIGHER THAN ANY OTHER UK NATION

09/10/2015
  • The average cost of a funeral in Wales in 2015 is £3,461 – an increase of 5.2% in one year
  • · Wrexham is the most expensive place in Wales for a burial, at £4,012 in 2015

 

New research by Royal London – the UK’s largest mutual life, pension and investment company – reveals the cost of an average, basic funeral in Wales is £3,461 – up 5.2% from £3,291 in 2014. Across the UK, Wales has seen the most significant cost rise in the past year among all four UK nations.

The rise in Wales is stark in comparison to Scotland, where costs rose just 2.4%, perhaps due to the removal of doctors’ fees in May 2015.

Wrexham is the most expensive place for a burial in the country, costing on average £4,012, while Pontypridd the cheapest at £3,269. Aberdare is the most expensive place for a cremation in the region, costing an average of £3,353, while Cardiff the cheapest at £3,144.

Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index 2015 – an annual study of funeral costs – reveals how prices  have risen almost as rapidly as house prices since 1980 (see Chart 1 below). Over the past year, the cost of an average UK funeral has increased by 3.9%. This is higher than annual UK inflation of 1% (as measured by RPI). The average funeral in the UK is now £3,702 – up £140 from £3,562 in 2014.

 The new Index reveals the cost of a funeral continues to be a postcode lottery across the UK. Funerals range from £2,976 for a cremation in Greenock, to £7,216 for a burial in Beckenham,Kent – a difference of £4,240.

 

 

Table 1: average cost of a funeral in each nation – ranked by % change

Location

Average cost

In 2014

Average Cost in 2015

% change year-on-year

Wales

£3,291

£3,461

5.2%

England

£3,601

£3,747

4.1%

Scotland

£3,399

£3,481

2.4%

Northern Ireland

£2,951

£3,008

1.9%

Source: Royal London National Funeral Cost Index surveys

 

Table 2 below shows the variation in the cost of a burial and cremation in 2015 across Wales.

Table 2: Cost of burial and cremation in Wales – A-Z by area

Location

County

Burial cost 2015

Cremation cost 2015

AberdareRhondda Cynon Taff

£3,592

£3,353

AberystwythCeredigion

£3,359

£3,324

BangorGwynedd

£3,560

£3,146

BarryCardiff County

£3,597

£3,294

Bridgend

Bridgend (Coychurch)

£3,765

£3,264

Cardiff

Cardiff County

£3,740

£3,144

Colwyn Bay

Conwy County Borough

£3,840

£3,181

Gwent

Torfaen

£3,835

£3,221

LlanelliCarmarthenshire

£3,534

£3,234

NarberthPembrokeshire

£3,632

£3,193

Pontypridd

Pontypridd

£3,269

£3,255

Port TalbotNeath Port Talbot

£3,913

£3,214

Swansea

Glamorgan

£3,970

£3,209

WrexhamWrexham

£4,012

£3,275

Source: Royal London National Funeral Cost Index surveys

 

On a regional level, costs rose most in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside – over 4% in both regions. Table 3 and Table 5 below show regional and national shifts, and The Index includes 271 locations.

Royal London says, given the price rises it is not surprising to see funeral debt rising in UK households. A survey of 2,000 people by YouGov found more than one in ten people (13%) struggle to pay for a funeral today. On an individual level, funeral debt is £1,318 – collectively, across the UK this equates to £98.9m.

The mutual says to cope with rising costs people are cutting-back when it comes to paying for essential items such as coffins, and optional elements such as flowers. The most striking example is coffins: last year’s Index found people spent £1,108 on average, but the 2015 report shows this has dropped to £989, a decrease of 11%. People are also exploring alternative burial options – 8% are now ‘woodland’ or ‘‘natural’.

 Simon Cox, a funeral cost expert at Royal London, said:

“A loved one’s funeral can be expensive – a major (and sometimes unexpected) outlay, costing thousands of pounds. The rising cost of an average UK funeral is very concerning; it’s outstripped inflation considerably for many years –almost  in line with house price rises, which as we know continue to rise rapidly as demand outstrips supply.

 “Our study shows people are striving to meet funeral price hikes, which they have little control over. Given the stressful situation, shopping around for a funeral is often not an option. Instead people are coping by cutting back on non-essentials if possible, and reconsidering how loved ones are buried.

 “The UK funeral system still displays fundamental failings, which we reported last year. Vulnerable bereaved people are taking on increased debt; and we predict this problem will worsen if steps are not taken to tackle the many, persistent causes driving up the cost of funerals.”

 In light of the findings, Royal London urges policy-makers to look at the underlying, interrelated issues that are causing funeral cost rises – including the scarcity of burial plots and the inadequate Social Fund Funeral Payment system. It wants a full and fundamental review of the Fund – the UK’s state benefit designed to help those struggling with funeral debt.

The mutual would like to see England, Wales and Northern Ireland follow Scotland’s lead, and scrap ‘cash for ash’ doctors’ fees.  It believes the UK needs access to more sustainable, affordable and locally provided services. It would like to see more transparent and innovative funeral service provision – across the UK.

It urges Government to work with industry experts to find better outcomes for bereaved UK citizens – a benefit system which is fast, simple, sympathetic, valuable and economical; one which protects both vulnerable claimants and the tax payer from unreasonable costs.

Commenting on the findings, Heather Kennedy, Campaign Manager for Fair Funerals said:

“The Social Fund Funeral Payment was designed to cover the cost of a basic funeral for people on low incomes where there was no other relative with the means to pay. Over the past 12 years we’ve seen the Fund erode further and further to the point where even those who are eligible will only receive enough to cover around 35% of the price of the basic funeral.

 “The result is people are left struggling with very substantial debts they often have no way of clearing, often at the worst time of their life. Bereaved people on low incomes have been overlooked by the government for too long. As the price of funerals rises further and further beyond what people can reasonably afford, central government must set out a credible plan to help people on low incomes provide a dignified funeral when someone dies.”

 OTHER UK FINDINGS

  •  Ways to pay: Saving pots pay for two-thirds (66%) of funerals; one in five (21%) funerals are pre-paid via a ‘Funeral Plan’, and an insurance policy of some kind pays for 18% of funerals.
  •  Shortage of burial space: Non-residency fees apply when people wish to be buried somewhere other than where they lived; it can also apply when people have no local burial option or choice. High fees are a symptom of shortage of burial space. Costs can range vastly across the UK. For example: £8,349 in Wolverhampton and £11,148 in Lewisham.
  •  Range of Funeral Director costs:  costs can vary in the same area, but if families feel able to shop around at this distressing time, significant cost savings can be made. Data from Funeral Choice highlights how people can save £700 on average, rising up to £2,000.
  •  Cost conscious consumers: when considering their own funeral, most people would prefer a low-cost approach – over a third (36%) of respondents want their families to spend ‘as little as possible’ and ‘save the money for the family’. Only a few (3%) want a ‘good send off with all the frills’.

 

 

Table 3: Most expensive funeral locations in UK – ranked by average 2015 cost

 

Location

Cost

Burial 2015

Cremation 2015

Average 2015

1.       Beckenham

£7,216

£3,529

£5,372

2.       Southgate

£6,947

£3,374

£5,161

3.       Wandsworth

£6,936

£3,216

£5,076

4.       Enfield

£6,655

£3,359

£5,007

5.       Woking

£6,165

£3,419

£4,792

6.       Tooting

£6,215

£3,172

£4,693

7.       Leatherhead

£5,771

£3,529

£4,650

8.      Golders Green

£5,685

£3,284

£4,484

9.       Aldershot

£5,528

£3,426

£4,477

10.   Barnet

£5,685

£3,219

£4,452

Source: Royal London National Funeral Cost Index surveys

 

Table 4: Cheapest funeral locations in UK – ranked by lowest average 2015 cost

 

Location

Cost

Burial 2015

Cremation 2015

Average 2015

1.       Belfast

£3,027

£2,989

£3,008

2.       Amersham

£3,040

£3,164

£3,102

3.       Yeovil

£3,115

£3,189

£3,152

4.       Alford

£3,147

£3,179

£3,163

5.       Bridgwater

£3,145

£3,264

£3,204

6.       Kirkleatham

£3,120

£3,294

£3,207

7.       Falkirk

£3,355

£3,065

£3,210

8.      Greenock

£3,448

£2,976

£3,212

9.       Paisley

£3,359

£3,065

£3,212

10.   Glasgow West

£3,359

£3,085

£3,222

Source: Royal London National Funeral Cost Index surveys

 

Table 5: Locations with greatest % change year-on-year (2014 to 2015)

 

Location

Price change year-on-year

% change year-on-year

Lytham St. Annes

£298

10%

Norwich Central

£351

9%

Bournemouth

£297

9%

Aberdare

£279

9%

Gwent

£281

9%

Basildon

£288

8%

Chesterfield

£265

8%

Lichfield

£258

7%

Bangor

£233

7%

Semington

£246

7%

Source: Royal London National Funeral Cost Index surveys

 

Chart 1: Inflation of household costs 1980-2015 (Source: Oddfellows and Trajectory)