For the second year in a row, the cost of an average funeral in the UK has gone down according to SunLife’s 2023 cost of dying report.

However, with rising professional fees, and higher send-off costs, such as venue hire and catering, the overall cost of dying has increased to more than £9,000.

According to reports, one in six families stated experiencing significant financial concerns over funerals, especially in cases where pre-paid plans are not in place. With an additional pinch caused by the cost of living crisis, finding money for a funeral is an added stress many could do without. 

SunLife’s most recent Cost of Dying report explores how these rising costs, updates in regulations, and a subsequent change in views among the population, have led to a continued rise in direct cremations.

In this article, we will explore key findings from the report surrounding direct cremations. 

The sustained rise of direct cremations

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2021, direct cremations became a popular and practical option for many – a trend that’s continued into 2022.

According to SunLife’s latest report, in 2022 the percentage of individuals who opted for a direct cremation when arranging a funeral remained at 18%, the same as in 2021. However, this figure represents a significant rise from 2019, when direct cremations comprised only 3% of all funerals.

However, a key difference in this year’s findings is that 71% of people are now aware of direct cremations – more than ever before. This is an increase of 7% from 2021 and marks a big jump from 2019 when only 52% of people were aware. One funeral director states:

“Direct cremations are one thing that six years ago people didn’t know about. It is very important economically and for the client base who do not want fuss and who want to celebrate life.”

direct cremations

Direct cremations remain the most affordable funeral option

In 2022, 7% stated they chose a direct cremation as a way to cut funeral costs – a rise of 1% from 2021. At £1,511*, direct cremations remain the most affordable type of funeral in the UK and have even decreased in cost by 8.2% since 2021. Compared to the average cost of a traditional burial, direct cremations are almost 69% cheaper – making them a much more realistic and accessible option for many families. 

*This price is an average based on all UK providers’ rates. Currently, the most affordable direct cremation service in the UK is provided by us here at Celebration of Life, with at-need services available from £795. 

Why are direct cremations so affordable?

When the price of traditional burials or cremations is broken down, much of the cost has been found to go on things such as: 

  • Fees for the burial, funeral director, doctor, and minister or celebrant.
  • The send-off: optional extras such as the memorial, death and funeral notices, flowers, order sheets, limousines, the venue, and catering for the wake.

By providing an 'unattended cremation' service, direct cremations eliminate the need for extra expenses. Families can avoid the burden of paying thousands of pounds for typical funeral costs, as they only have to cover the cremation, provider fees, and the retrieval and delivery of the ashes. 

It's worth noting, however, that not all direct cremation providers offer the same services at the same price, and some may have undisclosed additional charges. Therefore, it's advisable to compare prices before making a decision.

low-cost funerals

Attitudes towards funerals are changing

Just like in 2020 and 2021, almost half of all funeral services were described as a “celebration of life” in 2022.

Now, more than ever, people are steering further away from religious send-offs – not only to save costs but out of a change in attitude. One commenter on Twitter discusses their beliefs surrounding traditional funerals:

“I’m not religious and think funerals macabre and unnecessary… I just want to be cremated and my ashes scattered in all the beautiful places I’ve visited.”

Many funeral directors have noticed this shift in views towards direct cremations, describing them as a lifestyle choice, not a pauper’s funeral. 

This is mainly because unattended cremations allow friends and families to celebrate their loved one in a more personal and meaningful way that is befitting of the deceased and their life. Many people feel that traditional funerals are often for the bereaved and not actually for the deceased, with a focus on saying goodbye and getting closure rather than remembering and celebrating the deceased.

Key findings from the report

Overall, SunLife’s 2023 report has found a sustained rise in popularity and preference toward direct cremation funerals in the UK, which is set to remain over the coming years. With economic strains and changing attitudes continuing to mould the funeral sector, direct cremations are now becoming a low-cost option that allows families to celebrate their loved one’s life in their own way, rather than a cop-out pauper funeral option. 

Arrange a direct cremation with Celebration of Life

If you are looking to arrange a Direct cremation, at Celebration of Life, we offer one of the UK’s lowest-price, simple and fully inclusive direct cremations, both pre-paid and at-need. 

We’re authorised by the FCA, and available whenever you need us. So, if you’re looking for an affordable and fuss-free direct cremation service, contact us at Celebration of Life today – we’re always happy to help.

affordable funerals uk

Direct Cremation Services from Celebration of Life

At Celebration of Life, we offer one of the UK’s lowest-price, simple and fully inclusive direct cremation services, both pre-paid and at-need. We’re authorised by the FCA, and available whenever you need us.

Contact Us