Bereaved Families Are Struggling With Record High Funeral Debt

Research has found that families who struggle with funeral costs are taking on an average of £1,990 debt to pay for them, as the price of funerals increases again.

Royal London have published a National Funeral Cost Index, and the data is concerning. It found that the total amount of funeral debt in the UK has risen to £147m, up 12% from last year.

There are about 74,000 bereaved families who have struggled to cover the cost of a funeral in the past year. 27% of those who struggled said they went into debt from credit cards, loans or overdrafts.

20% said they borrowed money from family and friends, with 12% saying they chose a cheaper funeral. The index also found that people on lower incomes are spending much more of their income on a funeral, meaning they’re left worse off than those on higher incomes.

Funeral costs are also at an all time high, with a basic funeral in the UK costing £3,785, an increase of £28 from last year. London remains the most expensive, with an average funeral costing £4,939, while Northern Ireland is the least expensive, with an average funeral costing £2943.

34% of people questioned said the funeral for their loved ones cost more than expected. 25% said they went above and beyond the deceased’s funeral wishes, with 11% of these saying they spent £1,000 more than previously discussed.

Louise Eaton-Terry, Royal London’s funeral cost expert, said:

“As bereaved families continue to take on thousands of pounds of debt to pay for their loved ones’ funerals, support from the state remains woefully inadequate.

“The Government have tinkered around the edges and made some improvements to the Funeral Expenses Payment benefit, but the fact remains that the fund does not cover the full cost of a simple funeral.

“The value of the fund is seriously lacking with no serious action being taken to increase it and help support the bereaved who are being crippled with funeral debt.”

Royal London say there are signs that things will improve in the funeral industry, but they are unsure as to whether the changes will go far enough to make things better for those that need it most.

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