The work and pensions select committee recently called for an inquiry into the funeral industry to tackle the causes of funeral cost inflation and to address rising funeral poverty.
In response, Graham Jones, director at SunLife, said: “SunLife’s Cost of Dying report, which has been tracking the rising cost of funerals since 2004, shows that funeral prices have risen more than 90% since 2004, and by 2.9% in the last year alone.
41% of people in the UK make no provision at all for their own funerals and this is putting 17% of those left behind into financial hardship, with half having to borrow money, either from friends or relatives (21%), the bank or a loan provider (8%) or via a credit card (21%)
“One in seven (14%) said they had to sell belongings to cover the cost, while 17% were forced to work out a payment plan with the funeral director. The remaining 41% took money from their own savings or investments.
“What these findings highlight more than ever is that funerals are costly, and anything we can do now to prepare will help our relatives when the time does come.
“Because not only are we not preparing financially, we are not preparing emotionally either. Our report found that only 1% of those organising a funeral knew all of their loved ones’ wishes. A third don’t even know if their loved ones would want to be buried or cremated.
“Many of us are still very uncomfortable talking about death, this is understandable, but means that in many cases those left to organise (and often pay for) a funeral are doing so without knowing what their loved one actually wanted.
“It’s really important to talk about and plan for our funeral. As our report has shown, if we don’t make plans we put a significant financial burden on the people we leave behind and an emotional one too.”