Research reveals that in 2021, the average cost of a cremation funeral is £3’885. And that price can vary by hundreds of pounds, for exactly the same service, depending on where you are based. But there is an increasingly popular, and more affordable, alternative out there: direct cremation can save you thousands of pounds and reduce the cost of a funeral.
Direct cremation is a way of separating the cremation from an attended funeral service. The deceased is taken directly to the crematorium and the cremation happens privately without any mourners in attendance. Their family and friends are free to hold an individual remembrance service at a later date and give their loved one the send off that feels right for them.
Cost of funerals: Same service, big price difference
Why is there such a difference in price? One of the main reasons is that the roughly 300 crematoria in Great Britain charge different amounts. For instance, the average cremation costs £592 in West London, while in East London you’ll pay an average of £909. Prices often rise faster than inflation. And with a captive market unable to shop around, crematoria have no incentive to keep their prices down.
No competition for Crematoria
Almost 200 crematoria are run by local authorities. Planning restrictions make it very difficult to construct a new crematorium so the existing ones can essentially charge what they like.
Prices go up as services shrink
Covid-19 restrictions have placed a lot of strain on families wishing to hold funeral services. Social distancing has limited funerals to a maximum of 30 mourners, but in reality this number is often lower due to a lack of space within crematorium chapels.
Meanwhile the time allotted for a funeral has often decreased as well, to allow for deep cleaning between services. Some venues allow only a maximum of 20 minutes for the service, including the time it takes for mourners to arrive and leave the room. It’s no wonder that many grieving families are left feeling rushed and short changed.
It’s not all bad
The councils of York and Kirklees temporarily reduced their cremation fees to make up for service restrictions during the pandemic.
But the total cost of a funeral is typically four times the cremation fee. So what is the alternative?
The growing trend for direct cremation
In 2020, 1 in 14 cremations was direct. A direct cremation separates the cremation from the funeral service. The deceased is taken directly to the crematorium and the cremation is held privately without any mourners present. The ashes can then be returned to the next of kin so they can host their own service at a later date.
Direct cremation is more flexible and significantly cheaper than a traditional funeral, on average saving £2908. And it allows for any number of flexible and individual options for hosting a memorial service
“Many of our clients are waiting until lockdown restrictions have ended so they can host a gathering to say goodbye to their loved one. With direct cremation there is no rush to organise an event and they can be much more personalised than the traditional send-off in a crematorium chapel. Many clients scatter the ashes in a favourite beauty spot, then celebrate their loved one’s life amongst family and friends. There’s no right or wrong way to say goodbye” said Steven Cains, founder of Direct Cremation by Harbour. “We’ve even had clients put the ashes into fireworks so they can go out with a bang.”