How to beat rising funeral costs

A funeral can often cost more than is expected, and it is not unusual to find yourself paying £8000 and upwards depending on how elaborate the funeral is to be, how many guests are expected, how many funeral cars etc. The costs involved can come as quite a shock to families and adds more stress to an already stressful time.

According to the latest statistics compiled by Sunlife, the average cost of a UK funeral in 2021 was £4,056. This was deemed a decrease from previous figures, likely as a result of restrictions imposed by the government during the Covid-19 pandemic, which of course, dictated that ‘cut-down’ funerals were necessary. This meant fewer guests; no wake or celebration after the funeral, and in many cases, funerals had to take place online.

Some families may be eligible for government help with funeral costs, but as you might imagine, the eligibility criteria are pretty strict and usually applies only to people on certain benefits.

Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce the costs and still give your loved one the send-off they deserve. A funeral planning site such as The Farewell Guide can help with advice on this subject as well as any aspect of the funeral.

What makes up the funeral costs?

Burial and cremation fees are often the most expensive costs, and as we said earlier, the more elaborate a funeral, with more flowers, cars, guests at the memorial etc, the more the costs rise. Doctors’ fees have to be paid to obtain death certificates. These usually cost £11 per certificate, and you may need several to present to banks, solicitors, credit companies etc, in order to finalise the deceased’s affairs. The funeral director and the celebrant or minister fees make up the rest.

Burials are more expensive than cremations, with the average burial costing in the region of £4,927 and an average cremation costing around £3,765. Bear in mind too that costs can vary in different parts of the country, with London being the most expensive area. This is probably one reason why direct cremations are becoming more popular amongst those wishing to keep costs down as much as possible. In fact, cremations now outnumber burials, according to recent reports.

How to beat rising costs

One way to avoid the stress involved in rising funeral costs is by pre-planning your funeral well in advance. While this does not fix prices, it could benefit those paying for a funeral as they can be aware of your wishes, allowing them to cut costs on things you would not have been so concerned about including in your funeral. Another could be to research charities that could provide funding to help with a funeral. Examples of such charities could include the Care Workers Charity and Friends of the Elderly. You can read more about getting such help here.

Burial and cremation costs

These undoubtedly make up the biggest part of the cost of a funeral. One way to keep the costs down is to opt for a natural burial or direct cremation. In a natural or green burial, as they are often called, the deceased is buried in a designated green burial ground and in as natural a state as possible. They are usually in a coffin made from biodegradable materials or in just a simple shroud. This type of burial is considered to be more environmentally friendly.

A direct cremation takes place without any mourners present and usually outside regular hours. The ashes will then be returned directly to the family, although some companies offer to dispose of the ashes for you. However, this could incur an extra cost. Many families are turning to the idea of a direct cremation as a way of being able to allocate the money saved to a wake or memorial service at some later date.

Funeral transport

It has always been considered an important part of any funeral for the deceased and close family and friends to be seen to be taken to the funeral in a limousine. However, these can be expensive. The average cost of a hearse is around £150-250 and extra cars for the mourners are around £150 each. Therefore, it makes sense to try and reduce costs in this area. Funeral cars are very much a personal choice and not compulsory, so it is up to the family whether to have them or not. Some families prefer to hire a specific type of vehicle, such as a minibus or ask guests to use their own transport. Most families will insist on a hearse to transport their loved ones. However, even this is not a legal requirement; ask your funeral planner or director for advice on this.


Some see funeral flowers, beautiful as they are, as a highly important aspect of a funeral. However, others may not place the same importance on floristry, particularly if their loved one was not a fan. If this is the case, loved ones could ask guests to donate money to a favourite cause or charity, which means a lot to the deceased and their family.

The wake or memorial service

There is no right or wrong way to do this, and it doesn’t have to be on the day of the funeral. Plan only for what you can afford and for what seems right for the family. It doesn’t have to be in a dedicated hall or another venue. A wake can easily be held at home or at a favourite outdoor venue. The choice is yours. The cost of food and drink plus any music or entertainment can easily be shared among family and friends to spread the cost.

Crowdfund it

Crowdfunding is increasingly utilised by all sorts of people for all kinds of situations, and there is no reason why this method should not be used for funeral costs. Everyone understands how expensive a funeral can be and in the case of those who were close to or knew the deceased, they are often only too happy to help cover the cost of the send-off.

Crowdfunding can be a good way to bring people together in honour of the one who has passed away and allows a degree of satisfaction in knowing they have contributed in this way. It is also a good way for family or friends who are unable to attend the funeral to feel involved, especially if an online link to the funeral is provided for them.