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Funeral costs still rising

The average cost for a burial is now £4,690 and £3,239 for a cremation, according to research by one of the UK's largest financial services companies.

Engage Mutual’s 2014 Funeral Costs Tracker also found that the average cost of cremation had risen 12% in two years, with burials up 9%.

Many people are in grave danger of leaving a legacy of debt because they have not planned for soaring funeral costs. A survey by market-research specialist Mintel also showed that only 18% of over-50s have made specific provision for funeral costs, while a further 9% admit they have no idea of what one costs to organise. 

According to the Engage Mutual report, which was based on interviews with over 600 funeral professionals nationwide, prices can vary by thousands of pounds nationwide. Northern Ireland is the cheapest place for a funeral at just over £3,500, while the cost of a burial in London is more than double that at £7,490.

The report has been used to update the society’s funeral calculator, which can be accessed by consumers as well as its advisers, to show the average funeral costs for a specific area. 

It takes into account the cost of items ranging from embalming and grave-digging to hiring an organist or placing an obituary. It also predicts how those costs will rise in the future, up to 2044. It says the average UK funeral then will cost an estimated £9,091 for cremation, or £13,164 for a burial.

Engage Mutual provides financial products to around 500,000 customers. 

“You can calculate the possible cost of your funeral anywhere in the country up to 30 years in advance at the touch of a button,” said sales director Maria Harris.

“We launched the Engage funeral calculator because we found that nearly two thirds of our customers have bought their over-50s life cover from us because they wanted a lump sum to put towards their funeral. “And we also found that just under a quarter of them were really worried about leaving their family with debt if they hadn’t done so. 

“This way any UK resident can see what costs they could be facing and plan for it.”

The combined research indicates that many people may be in danger of leaving a legacy of debt for their loved ones if they make no financial provision for their funerals. A report by Age UK shows 31% of people in the UK aged between 55-64 have no savings at all, while 20% of over-60s owe money and a million retired people still have mortgage debts. The latter figure is expected to rise to two million in a decade.

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