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The Average Cost of Cremation in the UK

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Planning a funeral is stressful enough, but when you’ve got to get your head around all the costs involved, things get even more challenging. Funeral costs can vary considerably, depending on where the arrangements are being made and what you’d like to include.

In this article, you’ll find average estimations for the cost of a cremation funeral. There’s also some helpful advice if you’re concerned about the cost and your budget is limited. You want to make the best decision for the funeral of a loved one, and you’ll find everything you need to know about the cost of cremation right here. 

How much does a cremation cost?

According to the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2021, the average cost of a basic funeral is at an all-time high. It’s up 1.2% on last year and is currently £5,033. The average cost of a cremation, including some additional fees, is £3,885, which is an increase of only 0.7% in the previous year. The average cost of direct cremation is just £1,554. Compared with your other options, this cost has gone down by 4.4% since 2019.   

Cost of cremation in England

Where you live can make a significant difference to the average cost of cremation. In England, London is surprisingly one of the cheapest regions for cremation. The average cost is £755. This is because there are many crematoria and more than half of London crematoriums are owned by councils, rather than private providers.

In England, the average crematorium fee is £831. This only covers the cost of a standard week-day service time for an adult and doesn’t include the funeral director’s fees, any doctors’ fees, or optional extras.

Cost of a cremation in Scotland

The cost of cremation in Scotland is slightly lower than in England. On average, the crematorium fee is £815, which doesn’t include the funeral directors’ fees. No doctors’ fees apply in Scotland.

Cremation prices in Wales

Wales has been reported to be one of the least expensive regions in the UK for cremation fees. You can expect to pay on average £741 for the cremation itself. Doctors’ fees may apply, plus the funeral directors’ professional fees.

Currently there is only one crematorium in Northern Ireland, Roselawn in Belfast. Residents of the Belfast area benefit from the lowest cremation fees in the UK, but fees are several hundred pounds higher for Northern Ireland citizens who lived outside this area.

Factors that affect the price of cremation funeral

Final arrangements that include cremation can be customised to meet a family’s unique needs, preferences, and budget. However, the final price you have to pay depends on several factors.

The location can make a big difference when it comes to the cost of cremation in the UK. One of the most expensive areas, for example, is the South West of England.

Not all cremation service providers across the UK charge the same price. Even two that are in close proximity to each other may charge two very different amounts for the same cremation service. So where you have access to more than one local venue it's worth comparing the prices and service levels to find the one that is right for you.

Direct cremation is a good option when only the basic cremation service is required - usually chosen because the focus of any farewell is on a separate event in a place that has personal meaning and memories. 

You might also choose to handle the arrangements yourself and dispense with the services of a funeral director completely. This means that you will only need to pay for the Doctors' fees (if they apply), the coffin, and the cremation fee.

Breakdown of the cremation costs

The cost of cremation funeral for your loved one depends on several different things. You can break down the cost of a funeral into three sections: Basic costs, professional fees, and money spent on a send-off. 

Basic costs:

  • Cremation fees
  • Doctors’ fees if these apply
  • Transportation from the place of death, care of the deceased
  • The cost of a coffin

Professional fees:

  • A hearse and any limousines for the procession (cortege)
  • Funeral personnel
  • Preparation of the deceased
  • Family viewing at the chapel of rest
  • Celebrant or minister

Other:

  • The cost of cremation urns
  • Delivery of ashes
  • A cremation plot, if required

The cost of a cremation funeral

There are many types of funeral services that you can choose for a loved one. For a cremation funeral, some of the common costs include:

  • Funeral directors’ fees: These tend to make up the largest part of the cost of a cremation. However, they will typically include the coffin, hearse, collection, and care of your loved one. Certain other services are included, such as dealing with paperwork, legalities, and organising the cremation service.
  • Doctor’s fees: The medical certificate of the cause of death is provided free of charge, however in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland the law requires medical certificates for the cremation to be prepared and these currently cost £82 each.
  • Minister or celebrant fees: There is no requirement to use a registered or ordained person to lead a funeral service. This means you can dispense with this fee completely if a friend or family member is willing to create and lead the service for you.

Additional costs for cremation funerals

Additional costs that can apply to cremation funerals include:

  • Cremation fees for your chosen crematorium
  • Fees to return the ashes outside a local area
  • Cremation urn
  • Fees for interment or scattering of ashes where applicable
  • The cost of a memorial service

Optional costs for cremation funeral service

When assessing the cost of cremation, it’s also worth bearing in mind that some costs are optional and you can personalise a cremation funeral service in many ways. Such optional costs might include:

  • Flowers
  • Memorial
  • Catering
  • Venue hire
  • Order of service
  • Death notice

Cost of cremation vs. burial

Cremation is usually the cheaper option when comparing the cost of cremation vs. burial in the UK because a burial involves fees for the purchase of a grave, the cost of opening the grave, and the right to place a memorial. Prices vary widely across the UK - churchyard burial plots are usually the least expensive but availability is declining.

Burial is also more expensive because the grave is usually marked with a memorial or headstone, unless it’s an eco-burial. With a cremation, a memorial is not necessary because you can scatter the ashes and choose to either have a modest plaque or no memorial at all.  

Reviewing cremation price lists

While you’re dealing with a loss, it may seem like the easiest option is to go with the nearest crematorium, or the one that your family has used before. Since September 2021 all crematoria must publish their prices online and in their premises, so it’s much easier than it used to be to get this information and make comparisons. 

An early morning cremation time (before 10 am) may cost considerably less than one at the most popular times (10 am to 3 pm). You may get a slightly shorter service time but this leaves the rest of the day for time together if desired.

If you opt for a direct cremation it is relatively easy to get price information but this is not the only thing to consider when  choosing a provider

If you feel this task may be too difficult, ask a friend to help compare the prices of two or three venues and the services they offer, or several direct cremation providers if that is the style of service you’d like. 

What is the least expensive way to be cremated?

Many people are surprised at how expensive a funeral can be, but there are some ways to reduce the costs. You can organise an affordable funeral in the UK without compromising care, respect, and expressing what made your loved one special. 

Low-cost cremation

Direct cremation is a low-cost alternative to traditional cremation, and it can be considerably cheaper. It also offers greater flexibility and financial control over how you say goodbye.  

There is also a real change in what people are looking for from a funeral and an increasing numbers of families are choosing a celebration of life event. 

In the UK, a direct cremation typically costs around £1000, but you should always check exactly what is included in the price. Many providers don’t offer fully-inclusive pricing and there may be some key omissions, such as the removal of medical devices, safeguarding of jewellery, doctors’ fees and return of the ashes.

Free cremation

Cremation with body donation to science is another option. It’s possible to donate your body to medical research via your local hospital or medical school. Many still arrange and pay for a cremation at the end of the programme (1 to 3 years) and return the cremated remains. The family can opt to hold a memorial service shortly after the date of death, on a special date, or once the ashes have been returned. 

Cremation only funeral plans

If you’re worried about the future cost, then a cremation only funeral plan will protect you from any surprises. It also allows you to document your final wishes, plan ahead, and pay for your funeral in advance. 

It is important to understand how the money is kept safe until the funeral is needed and to choose a plan that has been scrutinised and approved by the appropriate regulator. Currently the regulator is the Funeral Planning Authority and from June 2022 it will be the Financial Conduct Authority.

If you want to make arrangements in advance, Pure Cremation can help by giving you honest information so you can make an informed decision about whether a funeral plan is right for you. Get in touch for more information.