How Much is a Basic Funeral in the UK on Average?

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As you can imagine, the cost of a funeral will differ from person to person, as the price will be determined by the location of the funeral, personal preferences and wishes, as well as whether your loved one is having a cremation or burial.

According to financial protection and future planning company SunLife, the total cost of dying in the UK in 2021 is an average of £9,263, which is an increase of 0.8% since 2019. This price includes the cost of a basic funeral, which is an average of £4,184.

Of course, there are lots of costs involved and many things to consider when preparing for a funeral. In this guide, we break it all down simply so that you know what to expect.

The average funeral cost (UK)

In the UK, the average cost of a funeral largely depends on the type of funeral you require for your loved one as well as where in the country it’s going to take place.

There are 3 main types of funerals to choose from:

  1. Burial: £5,033 (average cost)
  2. Cremation: £3,885 (average cost)
  3. Direct cremation*: £1,554 (average cost)

The average prices have been provided by SunLife and they have used these prices to work out an average cost of £4,184 for a basic funeral in the UK.

There are several factors to consider when planning a funeral; let’s take a look at a breakdown of the total cost. 

*A direct cremation is the cheapest and most basic type of cremation available. It does not involve having a formal funeral service and usually, no one attends a direct cremation, unless the family of the deceased have arranged it, in which case, they should be able to attend. There is no minister, procession, vehicle or pallbearer. While it is a very basic option, the utmost care will still be taken with your loved one - it is simply the cheapest option depending on finances and the deceased’s wishes.

Funeral cost breakdown

Pure Cremation suggests breaking down the cost of a funeral into three categories:

1. Basic costs
2. Professional fees 4. Send-off costs (Wake)

Funeral director

A professional to administer the estate (executor(s) as listed in the deceased’s Will. If there was no Will, the UK’s inheritance law will determine which relative will be the administrator of the estate.

Memorial

Burial/Cremation/Direct Cremation

Catering

Doctor

Vehicle hire (limousine, etc)

Officiant/Clergy/Minister (unless you are having a Humanist/Civil Celebrant ceremony.

Venue of wake

Flowers

Service order sheets/cards

Funeral and death notice

Third-party costs

The funeral company will charge other fees on top of the cost of having a funeral director, and they will usually put it all together in one final bill.

Here are the services involved in the cost of a burial and cremation:

Burial costs Cremation costs

EROB (Exclusive Right of Burial)

Crematorium

Interment (the cost of digging open and closing the grave)

Officiant/Minister/Clergy

Add/remove headstone

Cremation documents

Maintenance

Cremation and medical certificates

Monument

Returning the ashes if the person to receive them lives outside the local area

Memorial masonry

Scattering the ashes

Coffin

Certified copies of death certificate (£11 per copy)

Additional/Optional costs

These are extra costs (on average) that might be incurred should the family wish to include these in the funeral:

  • Obituary: £75
  • Death and funeral notice: £86
  • Order of service sheets/cards: £94
  • Cost of funeral flowers: £193
  • Venue for wake: £282
  • Catering: £450
  • Extra limousine/car: £336
  • Urn for ashes: £30 (starting price)
  • Memorial headstone: £910 (not including cemetery fees)

These are average costs provided by SunLife, so bear in mind that these may differ significantly depending on where you are in the UK.

You will also have to pay for the following services should you require them:

Embalming

  • Other preparation, dressing and viewings of the deceased person
  • Photo or video tribute at the church, chapel or crematorium
  • Probate (distributing the deceased’s estate)

How to reduce the cost of a funeral

There are many ways in which you can lower the cost of your loved one’s funeral, but of course, it all depends on your personal preferences and budget.

Generally, people tend to spend more money than they feel they needed to, so it’s good to think carefully about what you and your loved ones really want and need.

According to SunLife’s study, here are several ways you can cut the costs (where possible):

  • Shop around to ensure you’re getting the best price for all the services you need
  • Get a cheaper coffin
  • Spend less money on flower arrangements
  • Have the send-off/wake at home if possible
  • Choose to have a cremation or direct cremation instead of a burial
  • Don’t use a hearse/limousine
  • Choose not to have the deceased embalmed
  • Don’t use service/order sheets
  • Choose the cheapest cremation time if possible
  • Request to use fewer pallbearers

How to pay for a funeral

If the deceased person left a Will behind, it should hopefully state how the funeral is to be paid for, whether that’s from their savings, a life insurance policy, etc.

If they didn’t leave a Will with instructions regarding their funeral, you will need to choose the best way to pay for it. 

These are the most common options:

  • The deceased’s bank account: you will need a copy of the death certificate and an invoice from the funeral company.
  • The deceased’s estate: This can be a long process, so the funeral bill will need to be paid, then you will need to claim the costs back at a later stage once the estate has been administered.
  • Life insurance policy: If the deceased had life cover in place, you will need to make a claim with the insurer. The payout can then be used to cover funeral costs and other expenses if necessary, provided the claim is successful.
  • Funeral plan: If the deceased put a funeral plan in place, you can use this to cover the cost. It might not cover all requests, however.
  • Funeral insurance: Again, if the deceased had funeral cover, the funeral will need to be paid upfront and you will need to claim on this to get the money back.

If you need help with paying for your loved one’s funeral, you may be able to apply for a Funeral Support Payment with the Government.