0001 Undated file photo of a funeral that was banned on Monday May 3. The government has announced that limits on the number of mourners attending funerals in England will be lifted. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said on Monday that the legal limit of 30 mourners would be removed as part of the next phase of lockdown easing expected on 17 May. Issue date: Monday May 3, 2021. PA photo. See PA story Health Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: PA Wire – PA Wire
According to the Co-op, the cost-of-living crisis is prompting more people to opt for cut-price funerals, with more than one in ten now taking place without a memorial service.
The Co-op Group, which operates 800 funeral homes across the UK, said its low-cost direct cremation and direct burial options now account for around 12pc of all its funerals, compared with 8pc a year ago.
Funerals, which are its lowest-priced services, include a basic casket but not the service or ceremony. Mourners cannot attend either service and a direct cremation service requires people to collect the ashes or pick them up from a cooperative funeral home at a later date.
In a direct cremation, the person who has died is also not allowed to wear his own clothes.
Gill Stewart, managing director of Co-op Funeral Care, said cost pressures had helped increase demand for affordable funerals.
The Co-op’s direct funeral and cremation services cost £1,195. This is less than half the average cost of a funeral in the UK, which was less than £4,000 last year.
The cost of caskets, flowers and additional services, such as assistance with arranging the service and ordering music, can all drive up the price of a funeral.
Ms Stewart said restrictions on how many people could attend funerals during the Covid pandemic had also brought permanent changes to the market.
She said: “I think it has become something that people have become more aware of, and there has been a change in people generally wanting simple funerals.”
The demand for affordable funerals has also increased following the change in regulations, forcing funeral directors to display a breakdown of their prices online and at their premises. More transparent pricing has made it easier for people to choose the cheaper option.
The Competition and Markets Authority took action in 2021 to crack down on “unacceptably low levels of care” in the sector. The watchdog claims that the change in transparency has helped bring down the cost of funerals across the board.
However, while the average cost of a funeral fell slightly last year, the average cost of dying rose 3.8pc to £9,200, according to research by insurer SunLife. This is because funeral costs typically do not include professional fees or venue rent and catering for the wake, all of which have increased in price as a result of inflation.
While the Co-op’s no frills funerals are cheaper than some services, they are a step above what are known as “pauper’s funerals”, where the local council pays for the funeral if the family is unable to.