SunLife report finds funeral directors want government contribution to funeral costs
The basic cost of a funeral should be covered by tax or national insurance, much like the NHS or pensions system in the UK, the latest Cost of Dying report from SunLife has suggested.
Interviews with funeral directors revealed that - in an ideal world - costs covered by government contributions would be supplemented by a funeral policy owned by the deceased or their family should they want a more expensive funeral.
Only 2% of the UK gets help from the government. Despite this, one in eight people suffer ‘notable financial concerns' when paying for a loved one's funeral, the SunLife report found.
Mark Robson, a funeral director from Green Undertakings of Watchet, said there should be a government bond for every person that dies because "we pay enough in taxes throughout the year".
"That bond would be say, £2,000 and the family could take that to any funeral director in the country and they should be able to do the funeral for that price," he said.
"If the family want the extras such as to upgrade the coffin, limousine, etc, then they should pay the funeral directors for the upgrade. Every funeral director should sign a pledge to say we'll do a funeral for £X, and if you have the extras then you pay the extras."
According to the report, the average cost of a UK funeral in 2018 and the total average cost of dying, including funeral extras, is £9,204 - an all-time high. Since starting in 2004, the Cost of Dying report has witnessed funeral prices steadily rising.
The 16th edition revealed that one in six funeral directors want to see something done about costs - such as more transparency (7%) and prices brought down (9%) - while one in 25 want to see greater funding from the government.
The study also found that one in four (24%) directors in the UK want to see regulation within the funeral industry. Currently anyone can start a business as a funeral director and this has led to questionable practices within unlicensed businesses.
"Earlier this year, the Competition Market Authority took a closer look at the funeral industry using SunLife's data to better understand funeral costs, which have continued to rise year on year," said Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife. "We've spoken to a hundred funeral directors around the UK to get their views, and it's clear they're keen for people to get more support - including formal regulation of the funeral industry, government covering the cost of a basic funeral and encouraging people to shop around rather than just go to the first funeral director they find."
In June, the FCA announced its intention to regulate pre-paid funeral plans.
A number of life insurers have signed up to the PDG's Funeral Pledge, which guarantees at least £5,000 is paid to cover funeral costs following the death of a policyholder.
The infographic below shows the average cost of a funeral across England...
New regime rolled out today
Back 9am on Monday
To help promote status
Symptoms, diagnoses, drugs, fertility information
Unveiled at The House of Lords