Would YOU consider a 'direct cremation' to keep funeral costs down?

Rise of the no-frills funeral: Popularity of £1,500 ‘direct cremation’ – with no traditional service – increases as people say they’d rather their loved ones ‘spent the money on a holiday’

  • Average cost of a funeral fell slightly to £3,953 in 2022, from £4,056 in 2021
  • Unattended cremation – where ashes are returned to families – cost much less 
  • Read more: Prince and Princess of Wales’s foundation announces new project to help create therapy gardens offering mental health support 

Could no-frills funerals sound the eventual death knell for expensive traditional services?

Direct cremations, where there is no accompanying memorial service and ashes are returned straight to family members, have risen in popularity in risen years, as families try and preserve their finances to pass on to surviving family members. 

According to insurance company SunLife, the average cost of a funeral was £100 cheaper in 2022, down to £3,953 from the previous year’s cost of £4,056 in 2021. 

However costs associated with funerals, such as catering and venue hire have risen – with £10,000 not unusual for an all-in price for larger services.  

The average cost of a direct cremation however costs just over £1,500, with Co-Op Funeral Care offering an unattended cremation for £1,195, with prices including transportation, a basic coffin and the option to have ashes returned or scattered in a garden of remembrance. 

The cost of a traditional funeral has gone down – according to research by insurer SunLife – but associated costs such as catering and venue hire have risen

Speaking to the BBC, one woman revealed she’s considering a ‘direct funeral’ for herself and her husband. 

Janet Jones, 70, who lives in Norfolk, said the appeal of a direct cremation was making sure as much money as possible stayed in her family, saying: ‘We’ve worked all our lives and we want our children to have that money to do something to remember us in their own way.’

The 70-year-old told the broadcaster she’d prefer her family to celebrate her life with a holiday. 

There’s also been calls this week for more eco-friendly funerals, with a standard crematorium sending up to 190kg of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere – equal to a 470-mile car journey.

Andrew Purves, who works at family business William Purves, a Scottish funeral directors, said traditional fire cremations and burials in unused ground were not sustainable. 

New direction? Andrew Purves, who works at family business William Purves, a Scottish funeral directors, said traditional fire cremations and burials in unused ground were not sustainable – and this week called for greener options

He told BBC Scotland: ‘Society wants more sustainable alternatives and there are some already out there but they aren’t legalised in the UK.

‘Flame cremation isn’t particularly eco-friendly as it takes a lot of energy.

‘Water cremation is more eco-friendly, as is human composting. I would like them to be legally permitted in this country.’

New rules introduced two years ago following a review by the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) mean that funeral directors much now display a set price list of their services. 

The competition watchdog launched an investigation into the industry in 2020 amid concerns rogue firms were exploiting grieving families. 

The CMA had argued it was clear the £2billion-a-year sector was not working well and reforms were needed.

It has previously been revealed that families could save more than £1,000 by shopping around. But the emotional distress of arranging a funeral means they are unlikely to do so. 

Under the new rules, funeral directors and crematoria must be more transparent and make it easier for customers to compare the cost of services.

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