Funeral Inflation – More Than DOUBLE General Inflation!
Funeral inflation rose by 6% on last year as almost a fifth of people struggled to pay. That is more than double the general rate of inflation of just 2.6%. Funeral plans on that basis are stunningly good value, says the Prepaid Funeral Review.
Sun Life says a basic funeral is now £3,284, 6.2% up on 2011 and a considerable up 71% on 2004 – just 7 years ago. Burial costs made up the largest part of funeral inflation this year (9.6%) while cremation was up 6.6% and funeral directors’ fees by 5.3%. By contrast the total cost of dying including probate, headstones and flowers went down by 1.9% to £7,114, mainly because legal costs for probate dropped.
Sun Life found that one in six struggled with the cost of the funeral, one in five used a credit card, one in ten borrowed money from a loan provider and nearly as many were forced to sell belongings.
The Social Fund Funeral Payment Scheme, designed to help for the most vulnerable, was also struggling to meet mounting demand, with the situation likely to deteriorate as costs increased, economic austerity continued and the population continued to age and grow, the report said.
But the study found discretionary spending had increased on items such as memorials (up 7%), flowers (up 7.6%) and limousines (up 7.1%).
Sun Life Direct spokesman Simon Cox said: “We must encourage people to look ahead and start planning in advance. The industry needs to ensure that suitable options are available for people to take financial responsibility for their own funerals.
“Debt, despair and distress are common hallmarks of arranging a funeral and there is no light at the end of the tunnel to suggest that funerals will become more affordable. Moreover, a difficult economic climate and increasing demand on public services make further state support unlikely. The vulnerable are too poor to die and we cannot let this situation continue.”
Dr Kate Woodthorpe, a lecturer in sociology at the University of Bath, said: “There is still a sense in some quarters that their death is someone else’s problem. As a forward-thinking nation we should encourage and help people to take responsibility for their own circumstances.
“National debate on social care in old age is focusing on the role of the individual in financial provision and the matter of funeral cover should not be left out of this conversation. The number of deaths each year is expected to rise by 17% over the next 15 years and the issue of funeral affordability deserves urgent attention if we are to give our loved ones the send-off they deserve.”
Julie at the Prepaid Funeral Review said “There has never been a more sensible time to invest in a prepaid funeral plan – they come in all shapes and sizes and can fit most pockets.”