How much does a funeral cost in the UK?

How much does a funeral cost in the UK?

by Jon Crawford2023-05-290

Here at Fenix, we have built our business by helping people planning funerals find clarity and reassurance by offering impartial advice and transparent, non-binding quotes to help create the perfect send-off with the least amount of stress possible.

Whether you are arranging a funeral service in the UK, from abroad or even need assistance with repatriation, we are here to help.

We understand that losing a loved one is never easy. It’s a time of emotional upheaval likely to leave you juggling feelings of shock and grief - and all while having to work through a daunting list of administrational tasks and planning. Our online service allows our customers to access our extensive network of trusted suppliers with fewer emails and phone calls.

As the funeral checklist grows, so does the cost. Furthermore, at a time of record inflation in the UK, more people than ever are feeling the pressure when it comes to funeral costs.

Don’t feel guilty if you pause to consider the cost of funeral plans. One certainty is that your loved one would not want to cause undue stress and worry by forcing an unaffordable funeral upon you. With the whole process sometimes seeming so urgent, it’s good to take a breath, consider a few options and decide upon a funeral plan that makes sense not only emotionally and logistically, but financially too.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to funeral costs in the UK intended to give you an overview of what to expect if you’re planning a funeral for a loved one. Remember, you can call us anytime to get help and advice with anything mentioned in this guide and a free quote with no hidden costs, ever.

What is the average cost of a basic funeral in the UK?

The average cost of a traditional funeral in the UK using the services of a funeral director is approximately £4,000, according to the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2023. This figure reflects an increase of around £200 since 2021. 

This figure takes both cremation and burial costs into account to reach an average total, though cremation is usually the cheaper option. This average cost does not take into account any extras such as a more elaborate service or floral tributes and transport. 

The average cost of a funeral varies depending on location, however, with the price of a funeral in or around London potentially coming in at anywhere between £1,000 to £3,000 above the national average. In fact, in the north of England, the average cost of a funeral with a simple burial service is around £4,000 on average, but comes in at over £7,000 in London. 

This is estimated on the assumption that the funeral will include a simple coffin, care and transport of the body, a short service and also the cost of the death certificate and ‘green form’, the official document which must be received before cremation or burial. These services are usually carried out by a funeral director and covered by their fee. 

Main factors affecting the cost of a funeral in the UK in 2023:

  • Burial or cremation (cremation is cheaper)
  • Location (London and the South East of England is more expensive)
  • Holding a funeral service at a venue other than the cemetery or graveside
  • Optional extras such as flowers, extra transport, death announcements

Who pays for the funeral?

The person named as the executor of the deceased’s estate will usually be responsible for arranging the funeral, including taking care of the payments to funeral directors and other funeral expenses. The costs will be recovered from the estate once probate is granted - usually 6-12 months after the death.

Some people choose to contribute to a prepaid funeral plan or insurance policy which can cover funeral costs when they die. This is a good way to take pressure off family members having to pay funeral costs upfront but relies upon the deceased having made these plans known to those they leave behind.

Here at Fenix, we offer our own flexible alternative to a prepaid funeral plan, called a Statement of Wishes. Unlike most traditional prepaid funeral plans, no medical is required, it is non-binding, and there are no cancellation fees if you do change your mind. 

It’s an easy way to find peace of mind. A Statement of Wishes can help your family arrange your funeral in advance without paying anything up front. Contact us anytime for more details.

In the unfortunate situation that you need to arrange a funeral for someone in the UK but cannot afford the initial costs, financial support may be available from the government.

Breaking down funeral costs in the UK

Generally speaking, funeral costs in the UK fall into three categories:

  • funeral directors’ fees, 
  • third party costs (cremation or burial fee for example),
  • optional extras to personalise the service. 

The information below should help you understand how the total figure is reached and to decide upon the type of funeral and extras that best suit your budget and your loved one’s wishes.

1: Funeral directors’ fees

The average amount spent on funeral directors’ fees for a basic funeral in the UK in 2023 is around £2,300. These costs usually include:

  • Collection and care of the deceased
  • Arranging the cremation or burial 
  • Preparing the body for the funeral
  • A coffin and a hearse 
  • Pallbearers to carry the coffin

2: Third party costs

Third party costs are additional fees that need to be paid before a funeral can take place. These can include: cremation and burial charges, doctors’ fees and legal certificate fees.

3. Optional extras or discretionary costs - disbursements 

If you have chosen a funeral director they will at some point mention the other services they can arrange to personalise the funeral. 

These are commonly floral displays, additional and bespoke transport (such as a custom colour limousine or carriage) and headstones, but the list of funeral add-ons is growing all the time, with services like live streaming, which became popular during the pandemic.

If you are planning a wake or memorial service after the funeral, this is something else that falls into this category. Choosing and booking a venue and arranging food and refreshments, for example. 

Live streaming a funeral in the UK - what is it, and what does it cost?

During the pandemic, one of the most distressing things for people who lost loved ones was that funerals became highly restricted and were limited to small numbers of mourners - usually just immediate family. Many people felt they were denied the chance to properly mourn the passing of friends and family during this difficult period.

One answer to this problem was to live stream funerals. It allows people to feel an emotional connection and share their collective grief over the passing of a loved one - even if they cannot be at the funeral in person. Live streaming had been around for years before 2020, but the pandemic was a major catalyst in driving the service mainstream.

With constant increases in broadband speeds and video technology, live streaming a funeral is no longer something reserved for celebrities and royalty. It’s even something you can do yourself if you have a smartphone and a good data signal. 

Most crematoria can offer a simple, single camera streaming service for between £50-100.

Using a professional service or one arranged by your funeral director can ensure the link to your funeral stream is private (unlike streaming on social media) and could maybe offer a better bandwidth - meaning less laggy streaming - depending on the venue and its capabilities.

Most funeral directors should be able to arrange a live stream or video recording of a funeral service these days and can advise on costs. Here at Fenix, we have trusted partners we can arrange a live streaming with, call us at any time to discuss.

Keeping it simple - low cost funerals in the UK

In recent years in the UK, there has been a growing trend towards low cost, less traditional funerals - often called simple funerals. These types of funerals cut out some of the non-essential extras to provide a service that is professional and dignified, yet without the high price tag. 

These days a low cost funeral is a popular choice for people who are not religious, want a humanist service, or simply see a better use for money than an extravagant funeral. Many people opt for a ‘no frills’ funeral, even though they could afford a more lavish event.

The average cost of a simple funeral with a small service in the UK ranges from around £1,400- £2,200, depending on location. The essential services needed, such as transportation of the deceased, a simple coffin and the necessary legal documents, are usually included in the cost. 

Because of the higher costs of burial, cremation is preferred in simple funerals. The other main difference is that instead of a large service at a cemetery or religious building, there is just a short and simple service at the crematorium.

What is the cheapest type of funeral in the UK?

Direct cremation offers the cheapest form of funeral in the UK and is rising in popularity. A direct cremation booked through Fenix starts at just £995, perfect for keeping costs down. Cremation is the most popular funeral choice in the UK and a cheaper option than burial. Despite this, however, costs can still mount up with a myriad of options to choose from.

Direct cremation is a simple, respectful and more affordable cremation for when costs must be kept to a minimum or the deceased did not want an elaborate or expensive service to become a burden on relatives. Sometimes direct cremation is referred to as ‘cremation without a funeral service’.

What does a direct cremation include?

A direct cremation anywhere in England arranged with Fenix includes:

  • Collection and care of the deceased’s body
  • Choice of classic wood-effect coffin
  • Respectful, unattended cremation
  • Free support and advice from our caring Bereavement Team

The defining feature of a direct cremation is that it will take place without mourners. This allows the crematorium to work on a schedule that is convenient to them and pass on the savings to the customer. Following the direct cremation, the ashes can be collected, delivered to your home (usually for a small fee) or scattered at the crematorium’s garden of remembrance on your behalf if you cannot get there.

This means that a service will not accompany the cremation, but many people are happier these days arranging a memorial service outside of the traditional mourning parameters. 

Without flowers, transport and the cost of a service, a direct cremation focuses on providing the essentials with respect and dignity, leaving you with less to worry about at a stressful time.

The most expensive funerals… how much does a state funeral cost?

This is not a consideration most of us will ever have to make as state funerals in the UK are usually reserved for monarchs, but it’s interesting to compare.

The funeral of the late Queen, HRH Elizabeth II, in 2022 was the only official state funeral to take place in the UK since the funeral of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in January 1965. The Queen herself then authorised a state funeral for Churchill to acknowledge his service to the UK during the Second World War.

It’s hard to find an exact figure on the cost of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, with estimates varying wildly from £8-10 million to billions of pounds in true cost. One thing is for certain, it was beyond doubt the most expensive funeral in the UK in the past century and was estimated to have been watched by 4 billion people worldwide as it was broadcast.

The UK’s most expensive funerals:

Winston Churchill, 1965 - est. £3 million at current prices

Princess Diana, 1997 - est. £9.5 million at current prices

Queen Elizabeth II, 2022 - est. £8-10 million or more

How much do religious funerals in the UK cost?

Although non-religious funerals are becoming more popular in the UK each year, many people still follow a religion and choose a traditional option in keeping with their faith. A common question is, will a religious funeral cost more than a simple funeral?As a religious funeral will usually include a service presided over by a faith leader, it will cost more than a direct cremation or a basic funeral. Again, it’s up to you to personalise the funeral in accordance with the wishes of your loved one or how you see fit, and costs will vary depending on your choices.

Here at Fenix, we have a wealth of experience in arranging funerals for all faiths, and you can contact us at any time for help in making your funeral arrangements.

Christian (Church of England) funeral

The average price of a standard Church of England funeral in the UK is £4,000 for a cremation and £5,000 for a burial. 

As in the case of all funerals, prices vary in different regions of the UK, and the totals do not include discretionary costs like extra transport and custom coffins.

When people in the UK think of a ‘traditional’ funeral, they most likely have an image of pallbearers carrying a coffin into a church, flowers on display and a solemn crowd standing by a graveside in a cemetery. 

These days, however, a Church of England funeral service can take place practically anywhere and be tailored to individual needs. For example, it’s now quite common to have a Church of England minister lead a funeral service at a green burial ground as environmental concerns are taking a central role in people’s lives - and deaths.

The Church of England keeps their parochial fees up to date on their website. Here are a few of the most commonly requested prices:

  • Funeral service in a church, before or after burial or cremation £217 
  • Burial of body in churchyard immediately before or after service in the church (this is an additional fee to interment fee and burial plot cost) £348
  • Funeral service (including burial of body) at the graveside in churchyard £450
  • Funeral service at the crematorium or funeral directors’ premises £217

Burial of body in the churchyard, without any service (committal only) £379

Catholic funeral costs

The average price of a standard Catholic funeral in the UK is £4,000 for a cremation and £5,000 for a burial. 

Catholicism is the largest of all Christian denominations, with 1.3 billion followers worldwide. A traditional Catholic funeral is usually longer than a Church of England service and has two key parts - the service in the church and the committal at the graveside

There are two variations of the church service - one shorter service lasting around 30-40 minutes and a longer service which includes communion and the mass, which can be over an hour long. Burial is much more common than cremation, but cremation is now acceptable.

There is no charge for a Catholic priest to officiate at a funeral service, but a donation to the church is usually requested. Some funeral directors may be able to arrange and include this donation in their fee. 

It is important, however, to consider the cost of the burial plot. At St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green, London, for example, it costs £8,500 for a new grave or £2,250 to open an existing plot for a burial.

Muslim funeral costs in the UK

As a traditional Muslim funeral, or Janazah  calls for burial, rather than cremation, this can mean a higher cost. The average cost varies according to location, between £3,000- £6,000. 

Sharia law states that Muslims should be buried as soon as possible after death (usually no more than 24 hours) once the funeral rites of ghusul and kafan (bathing and enshrouding) have been performed. 

Similarly to other religious funerals, there can be additional costs for these rites to be performed and for the faith leader to lead the service. For example, to bury the body as soon as possible, funeral directors may levy extra costs if they are required to work out of daytime office hours - or even on weekdays and holidays. Funeral directors will try to accommodate tight time schedules as far as they can but it is often tricky to match up cemeteries, officiants and other aspects of the service at short notice when the UK system is typically a bit slower.

The cost of a burial plot is also a factor in the cost of a Muslim funeral. Local authorities around the UK have areas set aside in cemeteries for Muslim burials, where the plots face north-east (so they may look over their right shoulder towards Mecca in the south-east), and there are also independent Muslim-only cemeteries. A new burial plot in a council cemetery in the north of England could cost around £2,500, whereas a private burial plot in London can easily cost upwards of £8,000. 

Muslim funerals also typically involve a larger number of attendees, with family members and members of the community coming together to offer condolences and prayers. This can increase the cost of the funeral, as it may require larger venues, more seating, and additional catering for mourners.

Hindu funeral costs in the UK

Again, like other religious funerals, the average cost of a Hindu funeral in the UK will vary according to location. The average cost of a basic Hindu funeral in the UK is likely to be in the region of £2,000-3,000, excluding disbursements.

There are, however, some aspects of a traditional Hindu funeral that make the cost potentially less than that of other religious funerals.

Almost all Hindu funerals will be a cremation, as tradition and belief calls for this. A cremation is of course much cheaper than a burial, especially if it is a direct cremation.

Also, the funeral ceremony is traditionally held at a private home before the cremation, which is another reason why a Hindu funeral in the UK could come out cheaper than a funeral held at another religious or secular venue. There may, however, be additional costs if you want to employ a Hindu priest to conduct the ceremonies and rites.

Jewish funeral costs in the UK

The average cost of a Jewish funeral in the UK is likely to be between £4,500 and £6,000, before disbursements and depending on the location.

A traditional funeral for Orthodox Jews is always a burial. For reform Jews, cremation has begun to be more accepted, but burial is still more common. So, like Catholic and Muslim funerals in the UK, a Jewish funeral is likely to cost more because burial is the preferred option. 

Because the Torah states burial must take place as soon as possible after death, a large ceremony at the time of burial is not always possible, and the emphasis is on sitting shiva, a seven day mourning period in the home of the deceased. It’s traditionally a time for spiritual reflection and emotional healing and also a time of respect and moderation.

For this reason, a larger gathering is more likely to take place at the stone setting around nine months after burial. This is when costs can build up - venue hire, food and refreshments; but of course, these are all optional and separate from the cost of the basic funeral requirements closer to the death.

Many synagogues in the UK offer burial plots to their members at prices starting at around £2,000. Non-members may apply for burial plots, but this could cost as much as £16,000 depending on the individual synagogue and cemetery.

Humanist funeral costs in the UK

A humanist funeral allows for a completely custom funeral, free of any religious traditions and guided by personal preferences. For this reason, the cost can vary from approximately £1,000 - £5,000 - and beyond, depending on disbursements.

As humanists are more concerned with science and nature as opposed to religious ideas about an afterlife, eco funerals are particularly popular. These are often less expensive than traditional funerals due to the relative affordability of an eco coffin or cremation in comparison to a hardwood coffin, gravestone or tomb. Woodland and green burial spots are also usually less expensive than burial plots in cemeteries and graveyards.

Direct cremation, the cheapest form of funeral, is also a popular option for humanists as this is a simple, non-religious event that can be followed by a celebration or gathering tailored to personal preferences. For this reason, a humanist funeral in the UK can cost as little, or as much as you would like it to.

What to do if you cannot afford a funeral in the UK

While some of us will have been fortunate enough to plan ahead and put money away for a funeral or have the estate of a loved one to rely upon to pay funeral costs, it is not that simple for everyone.

If you are having difficulty covering the costs of a funeral you need to arrange, there are channels of support available in the UK. The government-backed site Money Helper has a lot of useful information to guide you if you are struggling to find the money to arrange a funeral.

If you cannot afford to organise a funeral for someone who is a member of your family, partner or close friend, your local council or hospital should be able to assist with a public health funeral.

Conditions for a public health funeral are:

  • The estate of the deceased does not have enough money to pay for a funeral
  • The deceased has no living relatives to arrange the funeral.

A public health funeral in the UK will usually be a cremation that is managed by the local council. It normally has a short service, but is very basic - no extras like flowers, transport or death notices are covered by the state. Normally families are unable to choose where and when the cremation takes place, though this may vary according to location.

The UK government also offers a funeral grant scheme, called a Funeral Expenses Payment, which is available to people on low incomes who are receiving certain benefits. You must be recognised as the partner, close friend or relative of the person who died. The full details and definitions can be viewed on the Money Helper website.

If you apply for the Funeral Expenses Payment before the funeral takes place, it will normally be paid directly to the funeral director who is organising the funeral. If you apply after the funeral (it must be within six months of the funeral taking place) the payment will be made into your own bank account. It can take up to four weeks for the payment to be approved.

If you receive money from the deceased’s estate at a later date, the Funeral Expenses Payment you received will be deducted from this amount by the government.

A Funeral Expenses Payment does not cover all the funeral costs but can provide financial assistance to help pay for:

  • death certificates and other documents
  • cremation fees, including the cost of the doctor’s certificate
  • travel to arrange or go to the funeral
  • the cost of moving the body within the UK, if it’s being moved more than 50 miles
  • burial fees for a particular plot
  • other funeral expenses (up to £1,000), such as funeral director’s fees

Contact Fenix for a fixed cost for your funeral

As we have seen, the cost of a funeral in the UK is affected by many factors; the choice of burial or cremation, location and personal preferences when it comes to flowers and transport.

What is certain, however, is that there are more options available now than ever before, allowing you to craft the perfect funeral - whatever your budget. 

Here at Fenix, we are here to help you piece together your perfect farewell, whatever religion you follow or support you need. Get in touch today for advice and a no-obligation quote, with no hidden costs.

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