Category Archives: prepaid funerals

prepaid funerals

Are Funerals Safe These Days?

Catherine Powell of Pure Cremation

We salute those families who are choosing direct cremation in order to play their part in protecting their communities


One of the UK’s leading dedicated direct cremation providers has branded MP’s concern that ‘the wishes of the deceased and bereaved are not being fulfilled with a proper committal in the church of their wish’ as being careless and unhelpful when families are already having to make difficult choices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A letter signed by 36 MP’s was this week sent to Lord Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops of the Church of England asking for church doors to reopen suggesting they should ‘consider, most intently, the pain and anguish of those families unable to have a funeral’.

The action follows UK Government regulations which limits those attending funerals to immediate family members, with councils in some areas even banning mourners altogether for a brief time. As a result, the only options available to families are either a direct cremation or very small attended funeral held at the graveside or crematorium.

Catherine Powell, co-founder and Customer Experience Director of Pure Cremation believes that the letter branding direct cremation as a “tragedy” is highly irresponsible and this language only adds to the grief and distress suffered by the bereaved.

Catherine Powell commented: “We salute those families who are choosing direct cremation in order to play their part in protecting their communities. We are proud to be able to give them valuable reassurance and comfort by sharing the inspiring stories from the thousands of families who have deliberately chosen this simple, unattended cremation as a way to break away from tradition and to take control over the farewell events.”

Since the pandemic began, Pure Cremation has been doing its utmost to support families who find themselves arranging a direct cremation even though this wouldn’t have been their first choice for saying goodbye to a loved-one.

Catherine continued: “COVID-19 has essentially stripped families of the opportunity to hold a traditional funeral surrounded by family and friends. As you can’t postpone laying a loved one to rest indefinitely, it makes great sense to hold a simple and respectful cremation without delay and focus on a proper celebration of life or thanksgiving service once the restrictions are lifted.”

Direct cremation has increased in popularity over the last five years as more people look for an alternative to the usual “funeral formula” and this is an escalating trend. Pure Cremation’s growth is evidence of this, with sales of their funeral plan doubling each year, resulting in more than 10,000 active plans in April 2020.

She adds: “Unfortunately the MPs who wrote to the Bishops on this topic seem more interested in raising their profile than considering the impact their words might have on all the bereaved families who have made the difficult decision to separate the two parts of a funeral by arranging a direct cremation.

“They should be supporting their grieving constituents by emphasising the positives – more time to plan the perfect farewell, more time to gather the memories and stories that will make the event a poignant and accurate reflection of the life that has been lived.”

An early pioneer of direct cremation, Pure Cremation is the only dedicated provider with its own crematorium and the only firm operating throughout the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Based in Andover, Hants, the company employs its own specialist team of 61 staff who demonstrate real compassion and care for the families they serve, right from the initial phone call through to the hand delivery of the ashes.

“Going Underground’ buries the opposition as top music for funerals

Top Music For Funerals: research from Sun Life Direct reveals that for men, the top music for funerals is the comical “Going Underground” as the song to play at their funeral, Ladies chose (from the film Dirty Dancing) “I’ve had the time of my life”.

Music for funerals.

Funeral Plan Quotes

The days of traditional hymns are being replaced with lighter pop songs, as an upbeat celebration of life.  Womens’ top music for funerals is the chick-flick favourite of ‘I’ve had the time of my life’ while men go for the comical factor and opt for The Jam’s ‘Going Underground’ with the aim to make their loved ones smile.

Top music for funerals

1.Going Underground – The Jam1.I’ve had the time of my life – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
2.Football club anthems2.Angels – Robbie Williams
3.Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen3.Fields of Gold – Eva Cassidy
4.The Show Must Go On – Queen4.Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland
5.You’ll Never Walk Alone – from the musical Carousel5.Going Underground – The Jam
6.My Way – Frank Sinatra6.Time to say Goodbye – Andrea Bocelli
7.I’ve had the time of my life – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes7.Wind Beneath my Wings – Bette Midler
8Lean on me – Bill Withers8.The Show Must Go On – Queen
9.Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum9.I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
10.Angels – Robbie Williams10.Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum

‘Going Underground’ takes the overall top spot with over a third of people (37%) wanting their farewell song to raise a grin from family and friends, while a further 12% want the song to be a talking point of the future, something to help their loved ones to remember them fondly.

The desire to raise a wry smile at our passing also appears in our top choices of people to read our eulogy, with three out of the top five being comedians. If we could choose someone famous, ‘QI’ presenter Stephen Fry would be the man of choice with almost a quarter (21%) opting for a witty farewell, closely followed by an ‘Aufwiedersehen Pet’ style goodbye from ‘X Factor’ judge Cheryl Cole (11%) or a cheeky cheerio from funny man Russell Brand (9%).

Celebrity of choice for eulogies

  1. Stephen Fry
  2. Cheryl Cole
  3. Russell Brand
  4. David Beckham
  5. Alan Carr
  6. Smithy (James Cordon)
  7. David Mitchell
  8. Sean Connery
  9. The Queen
  10. The Prime Minister

Mark Howes, managing director, Sun Life Direct said: “Our research confirms that funerals really are a celebration of a person’s life.  Being able to make our own choices and express ourselves to those we love when we say goodbye is clearly important. With such different sentiments identified between men and women, it is essential to talk to our loved ones so we are sure they receive the truly personal send off they want.”

Some more music for funerals.

Top Music for Funerals

Dignity Funerals Declare War!

Dignity Funeral Plans, like all of the major players in the prepaid funeral plan market have been significantly affected by the large number of new entrants into the funeral plan market, some with very aggressive sales techniques. But Dignity are fighting back to maintain their market share, and the first salvo was the dramatic price reduction until 30th April 2019. They have also formulated a 3 year plan to fend off the invaders (not quite their words!) Why not contact us to see if a Dignity Plan would be right for you? More on their plans here.

Mike McCollum, Chief Executive of Dignity plc, commented:

“2018 marked the beginning of a period of radical change for Dignity. We reduced our funeral prices, created a broader range of choices for clients and embarked on plans to transform the business by the end of 2021.

Our vision is to lead the funeral sector in terms of quality, standards and value-for-money. To achieve this we are building a more coherent, cohesive and technology-enabled business, one geared to meeting the changing needs of our customers. I am pleased with the progress we made during the year, we built momentum and our Transformation Plan is on track. A lot of work remains to be done, but I am confident that with our highly experienced staff and the new transformation expertise we have brought in, we will achieve our goals.

2019 is likely to mark the start of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (‘CMA’s) investigation into our industry. Our surveys demonstrate that the majority of clients assume the funeral industry is regulated, when it is not. Some may assume that they will receive the same quality of service from different operators irrespective of price. They will not. I am proud that underpinning all of the changes we are making to our business is a continued, relentless commitment to the highest levels of client service. This commitment makes me confident that we have the quality necessary to achieve our ambition of getting ahead of the competitive curve, leading the industry and providing sustainable growth.”

Preliminary results for the 52 week period ended 28 December 2018

Dignity plc (Dignity, the Company or the Group), the UK’s only listed provider of funeral related services, announces its preliminary results for the 52 week period ended 28 December 2018.

Financial highlights52 week period ended 28 December 201852 week period ended 29 December 2017Increase / (decrease) per cent
Revenue (£million)315.6324.0(3)
Underlying operating profit (£million)80.2104.6(23)
Underlying profit before tax (£million)54.477.8(30)
Underlying earnings per share (pence)85.8128.3(33)
Underlying cash generated from operations (£million)101.9115.4(12)
Operating profit (£million)66.398.0(32)
Profit before tax (£million)40.571.2(43)
Basic earnings per share (pence)63.0115.8(46)
Cash generated from operations (£million)94.9112.5(16)
Interim dividend paid in the period (pence)8.648.64
Final dividend proposed in respect of the period (pence)15.7415.74

Alternative performance measures

All measures marked as underlying in the table above and throughout this Preliminary Announcement are alternative performance measures. The reasons for the Group’s use of alternative performance measures, definitions and where relevant, reconciliations are provided in the section on alternative performance measures at the end of this announcement.

Key points

  • Number of deaths as expected;
  • Comparable funeral market share increased slightly following significant declines in 2016 and 2017;
  • Simple funeral pricing reset;
  • Unbundled funeral replacing full service package;
  • Simplicity service offering expanded;
  • Transformation team in place;
  • 3 year detailed Transformation Plan established;
  • Good performance from crematoria; and
  • Pre-need environment remains challenging.

Direct cremation funerals to increase

Direct cremation funerals to  increase to 10% of UK funerals by 2030

Research[1] conducted by Dignity plc, one of the UK’s (self styled) premium funeral directors, shows that 53% of online consumers would consider a David Bowie style funeral for themselves, namely a Direct Cremation.

At the Prepaid Funeral Review, we have looked across the market at prepaid Direct Cremations with a little concern.  What happens if family and friends don’t agree with your decision to cut them out of the traditional funeral?  We always ask people to consider this and discuss it with family members and friend.  A good proportion of them then come back and opt for a more conventional funeral.   But let’s not spoil Dignitys’ Press Release:

A direct cremation is a low cost alternative to a traditional funeral, because cremations take place without a funeral service. The family arranges for the deceased to be collected, taken into care, and a cremation takes place without the family present.  Ashes can then returned to the family who often arrange their own reception or event to remember the deceased, which can be done at a significantly lower cost.

Annual unattended direct cremation volumes in the UK are estimated to be between 3-5% of UK deaths (18,000-30,000 people a year2) and Dignity is predicting this figure to reach or exceed 10% by 2030.

Simon Cox, Head of Insight and External Affairs at Dignity said; “The growth in the UK’s interest in direct cremation is in response to a shift in consumer attitudes towards funerals. Consumers are moving away from a one size fits all traditional funeral service and among the very many different needs this includes those who may wish to choose an unattended or low cost funeral option.

In addition public figures, such as David Bowie, demonstrated earlier this year that there are other options for people who choose a send-off with no fuss.  We witnessed a sharp spike in public interest for direct cremation immediately after Bowie’s death”.

John Troyer from The Centre for Death and Society at University of Bath said “Based on my research on the history of final disposal methods in the United States, direct cremation is something that many individuals choose when making end-of-life decisions about what should be done with their body. As in the US, I would expect to see interest in direct cremation continue to grow.”

Simon Cox continued; “To put it into context a basic funeral is £3,973[2] and is predicted to grow to £5,334 by 2021[3]. Not everyone wants to or can spend over £3,900 on a funeral with more and more people looking for alternatives such as direct cremation services, which can cost less than half the price. This is because a direct cremation requires so much less than the traditional funeral in terms of the various elements, people and planning.


[1] Research conducted for Dignity by Trajectory Partnership. Amongst an online nationally representative sample of over 2,000 UK individuals.  2 Calculation using ONS figures

[2] Matter Communications 2016

[3] Dignity based on data from Matter Communications 2011-2016

Funerals major cause credit card debt

Funerals major cause credit card debt

credit card funeral debt.

Funerals on credit.

It was something of a shock to hear that funerals are thought to be a major contributor credit card debt. Annual spending on both credit and debit cards in the UK has now passed £647 billion, with funeral costs often being the largest item added to a credit card.

More than three quarters of all retail spending is now carried out using cards, of which there are thought to be just over 175 million within the UK. That must be at least 3 each!

Three of the highest value retail purchases and services were paying a tax bill, buying a car or floor coverings.   However, the biggest single item added to the credit card was for funerals. Many were forced to use a credit card for at least some of the cost. The average amount was £1,114 – about a quarter of the normal cost of an entire funeral.

Not everyone realises that it is possible to buy a funeral plan for someone else. Or buy a funeral plan for yourself, but one with the facility to give it to a friend or relation just to ease the initial strain.   No reason why their estate can’t pay you back in due course.

Although of course most of us use cards on a daily basis, it is a concern that many are forced to add over £1000 to their credit card because they cannot afford the full cost of a loved one’s funeral. They are of course simply adding to the interest and deferring the need to pay.   And the interest is usually considerable. But for many, this is their only option in ensuring their friend or relative has a decent farewell.  What about those who have to add the full cost of the funeral to their credit card? It doesn’t bear thinking about if they are on a modest income.

A funeral plan can avoid causing unnecessary debt for those you leave behind. For further information on what funeral plans can do and how much they cost, simply contact a member of our research team on 0800 0588 240 or use the enquiry form to the right.

Don’t use a credit card to pay for a funeral – get it organised in advance!