Belfast Telegraph

Cost of a funeral bill in NI drops slightly... but average is still £3,000

 

By Eamon Sweeney

The average funeral bill in Northern Ireland is almost £3,000, according to a report.

Costs have fallen slightly since last year, research by insurance firm SunLife found.

That is in contrast to much of the rest of the UK, where bills are rising.

SunLife's Cost of Dying report said the price of the average funeral in the UK has risen for the 14th year in a row.

Costs increased almost 5% in the last 12 months to just over £4,000, although there is a wide regional difference.

The cost of a basic funeral package in London stands at £5,951, compared to around £2,982 in Northern Ireland.

However, these figures relate only to the actual cost of the burial itself and do not account for additional costs.

Roughly £1,900 is spent on memorials, death notices, flowers, funeral cars, hiring a wake venue and catering, as well as another almost £3,000 in legal fees for taking care of a will and estate. It takes the overall cost to around £9,000.

The SunLife report also points out that the cost of dying has spiralled upwards by over 70% in the last decade.

Putting that in context with other meaningful purchases made by people, it means that house prices, electricity, petrol and wages have risen only by a third in comparison to the cost of funerals.

The average £2,982 funeral cost here represents a drop of 9% in the last year. Wales has also witnessed a decrease of almost 5%.

In Scotland the cost is £4,506, in the north-east of England it is £4,222, Yorkshire and Humber is £4,596, south and south-east of England is £5,158, and the north-west of England is £4,084.

Funeral director Sean Carr, who is based in Londonderry, told the Belfast Telegraph: "I haven't put my costs up in around three or four years.

"We are dealing with people who are often under pressure, so I try and keep the cost down because it's hard enough for families at the time of a death.

"I know it now often costs between €3,000 to €6,000 in Dublin just for a plot because land is running out there.

"Undertakers are aware that costs are rising in terms of fuel and insurance for cars, but I find it hard to put the costs up because people are really struggling out there."

For the first time the report has also looked at the cost of what are called direct cremations, meaning cremations that do not include a service and as a result costs are lower.

One in 10 cremations across the UK is now of this nature, and while the average UK-wide price stands at £1,835, in Northern Ireland the cost is around £2,065, and this has increased 12.5% in the last 12 months.

This is largely due to the availability of just two crematoria in the province.

According to the SunLife survey, the main reason behind such a substantial rise in the cost of funerals is due to cuts in local authority budgets leading to reduced subsidies for burials, and wage increases for local authority staff and grave diggers.

Funeral directors' fees have also increased, with rising fuel costs, lack of available space for burials and an increase in the cost of land for new burial sites, as well as investment in cemetery infrastructure including road repairs.

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