The cost of cremations has soared, according to a Daily Mail article published earlier this month (July 2020).

The paper reports that two-thirds of councils have raised their prices by 16 percent, making the average cost £775 (up from £752), despite limited numbers being able to attend funerals because of social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Funerals are no permitted in churches, but numbers are still limited to allow for social distancing.

‘Pauper’s funeral’

The average cost of cremation was £470 ten years ago. Some councils have reduced their prices, while a quarter of them have frozen what they charge. Quoting from the BBC, the Mail article focused on a widower who compared the lockdown funeral service for wife to a “pauper’s funeral”. Only five people were allowed to attend Neville Wilson’s wife Denise’s send-off after she died of lung cancer in March.

The funeral procession was hearse only with no floral tributes and the family needing to take their own cars to attend the ceremony. The ceremony took place in Coventry, run by the city council there, and was cut from the usual 45 minutes to 15 minutes but still charged at the same price. Mr Wilson said it had felt “unbelievably bad”.

He added that the funeral could not have been any worse “if we’d tried”. Following his experience, Mr Wilson investigated which councils were and weren’t freezing costs in light of reduced service, wondering why Coventry City Council wasn’t doing so.

Upset because they weren’t allowed to attend

He said his two sons were extremely angry because of the funeral service and his wife’s family had been upset because they weren’t allowed to attend.

Councils have defended the price rises, which were agreed before the pandemic, which has also made putting them on more expensive. Service times have needed to be cut so that deep cleaning can be carried out between the services, and this factor has increased costs further.

Down to Earth, a project attached to the charity Quaker Social Action that supports people struggling with funeral costs, condemned the price rises.

The group’s acting manager, Lindesay Mace, told the Daily Mail that the increases in cremation fees were as much as six, seven and even 10 percent in some places since last year. She added that those kid of prices rises were beyond the means of many people, especially because incomes hadn’t risen by nearly as much.

Julie Dunk, the chief executive of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, said councils had needed to invest in environmentally friendly equipment.

 

Finders International runs a funeral subsidiary fund for Public Health Act funerals. Local authorities or NHS trusts can now ask us for a funeral fund subsidy payment towards the cost of such funerals. These will be cases where there are no known next of kin (rather than someone’s next of kin simply refusing to pay). For more information or to apply for a subsidy, simply contact us at [email protected] or call freephone 0800 085 8796.