One in five families are using this no-frills alternative to funerals
Cheaper "direct cremation" funerals have soared in popularity as grieving families cut back on expensive, traditional burials and services.
Nearly one in five funerals were direct cremations in 2022, compared to just 3pc in 2019, according to a report from life insurer SunLife.
Direct cremations do not have a service and are unattended by loved ones. The ashes are then returned to families to be kept or scattered as per their wishes.
The average funeral in the UK costs £3,953, according to SunLife. A cremation with a service costs £3,673 on average, while the average burial costs £4,974.
Direct cremations, meanwhile, cost just £1,511 on average as families do not have to spend money on flowers, limousines, embalming, or other optional extras.
The price of direct cremation has also fallen by £103 since last year, the report found. It is thought this is because of new transparency rules around pricing.
Direct cremation funerals became more common during the pandemic when government restrictions prevented families from attending loved ones’ funerals.
But their popularity has persisted even as restrictions have lifted.
Mark Screeton, of SunLife, said: “Funeral organisers and funeral directors don’t see direct cremation as a ‘pauper’s funeral’ anymore. Now, they’re seen as a low-cost option that allows families to celebrate their loved one’s life in a way that suits them and their budget.”
The insurer said the cost of the average funeral had fallen below £4,000 for the first time since 2004. However, SunLife found the overall “cost of dying”, which includes the send-off and professional fees, had increased by 3.8pc since 2022 – to £9,200.
Mr Screeton said: “Recent regulation from the Competition and Markets Authority has also ordered funeral directors to display prices on both their premises and website – which wasn’t required before 2021.
“Some funeral directors told us that, as a result, they’ve reassessed and reduced their prices.”
A survey by SunLife found 3pc fewer people were making provisions to pay for their own funeral before passing away. Of the 69pc of those who did, more than half did not leave enough to cover the full cost of the service.
Just four in 10 put enough money aside to cover their own funeral, it said.
More than half of families surveyed said they had actively cut back spending to meet the funeral costs of a loved one. On average, these families had to find almost £1,870 to cover costs, with a third admitting they had dipped into savings to pay.