Cost of dying rising twice as fast as the cost of living

The cost of dying is rising more than twice as fast as the cost of living, a report has claimed, with the cost of a funeral surging ahead of inflation.

While the cost of living has increased by a cumulative 7.67 per cent since 2015, the average price of a cremation in Scotland has jumped by 18.38 per cent. However, the cost of burials has not risen as fast as inflation, increasing by 5.6 per cent to a typical fee of £1,630.

In the UK overall, the figure has risen by 19.9 per cent over the period. The national average price of a burial plot is now £1,838. According to funeral services comparison site Beyond, which carried out the study, it is a similar story in the cremation market, where fees are up by 17.6 per cent over the past three years across the UK.

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Cremations now account for close to 80 per cent of all funerals in the UK, with the average price for a cremation now standing at £784. However, some crematoriums – including in Dundee and Moray – are charging as much as £1,070, according to a separate report from Beyond released earlier this month.

James Dunn, co-founder of Beyond, said: “The number of people dying each year is fairly predictable so it’s staggering to see the cost of dying race ahead of the cost of living by such a margin.

“Funeral prices in this country are not something that we particularly enjoy talking about and that means awareness of the rising costs of cremations and burials is very low, which plays into the hands of cemetery and crematorium owners.”

He added: “Competition and transparency are going to be key over the next few years if the costs of cremations and burials are going to be prevented from rising unchecked.”

Beyond said that private funeral services firm Dignity run 19 of the 20 most expensive crematoriums in the country, with a direct correlation between an absence of competition and higher prices.

Funerals now commonly reaching £5,000 or more once all additional costs, such as cars, coffins and administration fees are included.

London is home to the UK’s most expensive cemeteries with land in the capital at a premium. However, it is Wales and the South West that have seen the sharpest hikes in the last 12 months, each with 12 per cent increases for average burial prices in just a year.

Official figures also released today by Registers of Scotland showed that in 2017 there were 5,022 more deaths north of the Border than births registered.

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A spokesman for Dignity claimed the company’s fees were “cheaper than the majority of local authorities and private providers”.

He said: “People tell us that the most important factor in organising a cremation is being able to make a booking that allows them sufficient time to pay their respects to loved ones.

“Our fee structure gives customers and their families a number of choices at different price levels. Dignity crematoria include components that our competitors often charge separately for, such as legal and practical necessities.”