Exploring the regional variations in funeral prices

Reader's Digest Editors

When we make the decision to purchase a home, we choose it based on a number of factors – size, local amenities, nearby schools but importantly, its location. From adding an extension, a conservatory or converting rooms, you can change almost everything about a home except its location. However, as well as living in a desirable area, location can be important in more ways than one.

Average funeral costs

When SunLife began tracking funeral costs in 2004, the average cost of a funeral was £1,920. However fast forward 13 years and at the end of 2017, the average cost in the UK was £4,078, that’s an increase of 112% *. Despite the cost of a funeral making up a proportion of the cost of dying, the overall cost takes other factors into account with the total cost of dying now sitting at an average of £8,905*.

In 2017, regional variations in funeral costs throughout the UK were noted with London remaining the most expensive place to die. The average funeral in London now costs £5,951 which is almost 46% higher than the national average whilst in areas such as Northern Ireland and Wales; we see some of the lowest funeral costs in the whole of the UK*. Northern Ireland remains the lowest cost for funeral plans (27% cheaper than the national average) with Wales following a close second (15% cheaper than the national average)*.

From highest to lowest, here are the funeral costs per region in the UK:

  • London £5,591 (46% higher than the national average)
  • South East and East £4,656 (14% higher than the national average)
  • South West £4,413 (8% higher than the national average)
  • Yorkshire and the Humber £4,185 (3% higher than the national average)
  • East & West Midlands £4,133 (1% higher than the national average)
  • North East £3,921 (3.8% lower than the national average)
  • Scotland £3,601 (11.7% lower than the national average)
  • North West £3,588 (12% lower than the national average)
  • Wales £3,461 (15.1% lower than the national average)
  • Northern Ireland £2,982 (26.9% lower than the national average)

Why do funeral costs differ per region in the UK?

According to SunLife’s latest cost of dying report in 2017, the variations per region are predominantly down to the burial costs within each individual area. The average cost of a funeral with a burial in the UK is £4,561 however as the burial costs are laid down by local councils, the average cost of a funeral with a burial in London is more than half that again at £7,311. However at the other end of the scale is Northern Ireland where the cost of a funeral with a burial is as little as £2,895.

Similar to burial, cremation costs do differ per region, however, it isn’t as stark a difference to that of burials. London has the highest cost for a funeral with a cremation sitting at £4,591 whilst Wales comes in at the cheapest place for a funeral with cremation at £3,049.

In 2017, only 25% of funerals were burials, whilst 75% were cremations, indicating a shift in consumer preferences from years previous. Of a survey of funeral directors in 2017 carried out by SunLife, almost 10% of cremations they now conduct are direct cremations with many people putting the reason of choice down to cost.

If funeral costs continue to rise at the rate they have in recent years, the average cost of a funeral could exceed £7,000 by 2026**. However, by planning ahead and purchasing a funeral plan you  can lock in the cost of the funeral director’s services included in the plan at today’s prices, as well as helping to give peace of mind to you and your family that your funeral will be taken care of.

To find out how you can secure the cost of your funeral at today’s prices, click here to request a free funeral plan information pack from Golden Charter.  

*SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2017.

** Projections by Golden Charter based on the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2017.