Funeral costs said to be ‘extortionate’

This week the BBC published an article detailing average funeral costs in 2018. The funeral services sector has come under fire recently as a result of claims of the extortionate cost of funerals amid recent price hikes. The sector now faces investigation. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also said it had “serious concerns” about above-inflation price rises.

Figures show that:

  • The average cost of a funeral in 2018 was £4,271
  • There has been a 68% increase in funeral director prices over the last 10 years
  • The average cremation fee in 2017 was £737
  • There has been an 84% rise in crematoria fees over the last 10 years

People arranging a funeral could save more than £1,000 by shopping around for a funeral, the CMA said. However, the regulator pointed out that grieving families would be distressed and not in a position to do so.

A separate enquiry by the Treasury into the pre-paid funeral sector is continuing. Many pre-paid funeral plans do not cover costs such as embalming, limousines, a funeral service, a wake, burial plots or memorial stones. In some cases families are left having to find an extra £2,000, even though they expect such items to be included. The government is considering a move that would mean tougher regulation of pre-paid funeral plan providers.

Lindsey Sharples, a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, says, “A lot of clients are understandably concerned about funeral costs and how these are to be paid after the death of a loved one. It is little known that it is possible to access a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral (even once the account has been frozen by the bank for security reasons after a death), rather than family members having to pay from their own funds.”

Lindsey Sharples is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Ipswich.

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