We are campaigners fighting for more support for bereaved families, fairer funerals and ending poverty. In our blog we discuss issues and themes related to dignity, emotional support and affordablity in funerals.
When people mention a free funeral – the first thing that may come to mind is a local authority or “paupers” funeral as some cruelly call it. But that’s not the only option open to people who are struggling to pay for their loved one’s funeral.
The Scottish Government introduced the Funeral Support Payment (FSP) in 2019. The grant supports eligible individuals in receipt of low-income benefits with a payment towards funeral costs.
The one-off payment helps pay for the reasonable burial or cremation fees, some travel costs, and includes a standard flat rate for ‘other expenses’ of £1,000 where the client did not have a funeral plan (or £120 if there was a funeral plan).
So, if I am eligible for the payment, will that cover the whole cost of the funeral?
It depends on your circumstances and the type of funeral you choose for your loved one.
The average cost of a basic funeral with a cremation is £3,885 or with a burial is £5,033*. The most you can expect to receive is in the region of £1,700. So, you would still have to find money to pay for the extra and those figures do not include all the send-off costs like death and funeral notices, flowers, order sheets, limousines, the venue and catering for the wake.
Also, you may not receive the full payment.
What other options are there?
If you choose a direct cremation for your loved one’s send-off then you pay much less for the cremation and could have more money left over to hold a celebration of life or event which remembers your loved one in a way that is more personal to your memory of them.
The average cost of a direct cremation in the UK is £1,554* but as a social enterprise funeral director, we offer direct cremation for just £1,095 and we promise not to upsell like some other companies.
But that is not all….
We are charity owned and operated, so we also offer wrap around support from the moment you pick up the phone. We help our clients apply for the Funeral Support Payment and support with other areas such as registering the death. We also offer a free helpline for those who are really struggling and need more emotional support.
Direct cremation isn’t for everybody, but more people are choosing it – and not because it is a “cheap funeral”. Most of our clients actually come to us because it fits with their value base – a funeral that allows them the freedom to remember their loved one how THEY want – not how society dictates.
So, if you would like to find out more, then please do get in touch – your wellbeing is our only priority.
You can call our team on 03000 113 311 or email us on email@example.com
*Sunlife Cost of Dying 2021 Report
A welcome step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to banish funeral poverty.
The Competitions Market Authority announced new orders for the funeral industry on 16th June 2021*.
The Order requires that, from 16 September 2021, all funeral directors must display a Standardised Price List at their premises and on their website. This list must include:
• The headline price of a funeral.
• The price of the individual items comprising the funeral.
• The price of certain additional products and services.
In addition, from 17 June 2021, funeral directors may not:
• Make payments to incentivise hospitals, palliative care services, hospices, care homes or similar institutions to refer customers to a particular funeral director.
• Solicit for business through coroner and police contracts.
Crematorium operators will also be required to provide specified price information to funeral directors and customers.
We have been campaigning for transparent pricing since 2018, so this is a welcome development. Sadly, we have heard first-hand cases of people who have been upsold unnecessary items by a minority of profit-making funeral directors. As a consequence, the bereaved are left with a funeral cost they can’t afford to pay.
Once these orders are enforced, those struggling to afford a funeral will see more clearly what an essential and non-essential cost is, and therefore make a more informed decision on what they need to spend.
However the CMA order does not include the following:
• A requirement to list cost of grave itself.
• Details of products and services of what is included in an unattended funeral.
• Children’s prices included in core price list.
We hope these will be included in the CMA’s final recommendation.
What else need to be done?
We all have our part to play in eradicating funeral poverty.
This year, the cost of a basic funeral has gone up to £4,184** – the highest it has ever been*.
So what else can be done?
Most people do not “shop around” and accept the first quote they are given. This is quite understandable considering the distressed state of most bereaved families. However, by even looking at a few different funeral directors, people from low-income families could save themselves a considerable amount of money.
Lack of familiarity with the industry.
Most people only organise a very small number of funerals in their life – which means they lack in-depth knowledge of the industry and type of funerals available. As a result, the majority of funerals in 2021 were either burial or cremation.
However, there is another option – direct cremation. This is a cremation with no mourners present. It has been described as a modern alternative and it provides families more time to prepare a send-off which is more personal to them and their loved one. It is also considerably cheaper than your standard funerals. As one bereaved person stated:
“I am glad I chose to have a direct cremation because our memories now are of him alive, and we have no sad memories of a funeral.”**
However only 59% of people are aware of direct cremations.** Whilst direct cremation wouldn’t be the choice of everyone, we feel if more people were aware of this option, then they may feel empowered to choose it and could potentially avoid taking on a funeral debt they just can’t afford to pay back.
Perceived social pressure.
Some may think that they must go down the traditional funeral route to give their loved one a “proper send-off”. It has been calculated that the average cost of dying – which includes send-off costs, then goes up to £9,263!
But there are several ways to remember someone that don’t involve spending a huge amount of money.
Joe chose a direct cremation for his mother, as it fit with her values, and he organised a really personal event with friends and family afterwards. You can hear Joe’s story here
So, lets start talking to each other about end-of-life plans. Let us share stories and knowledge and empower each other to make the choice that is right for us and our recently departed.
After all, when has money been the measure of how much you love someone?
*To read the full recommendations – click here
**The Sunlife Cost of Dying 2021 Report
Since we began life as Scotland’s only not-for-profit funeral directors, we have heard numerous stories of bereaved people, already in a delicate state, being upsold funeral items that were neither necessary nor required. Consequently, they have been pushed into a debt they have struggled to repay months or years later. The perceived pressure to honour the deceased in a certain way, combined with people’s reluctance to shop around can also push people in a costly direction. The latest funeral debt figure in the UK stands at over £80 million* – with funeral costs disproportionately felt by those from low income households. Royal London’s Funeral Cost Index Report 2019 found that those with an income of less than £5,000 a year spent at least 65% of their annual income on a funeral, compared to 3% at most for those on £150,000 or more a year – inequality at its absolute worst.
Who knows what is going to happen after the furlough scheme ends? Unemployment rates could rise dramatically, so the issue of funeral poverty isn’t going to go away as more people experience unexpected hardship.
Since lockdown began last year, we saw how bereaved families found creative and extremely moving ways to say goodbye to their loved ones. Video streamed ceremonies and zoomed wakes are just some of the ways people marked the passing of a family member or friend. In a country where big expensive funerals are usually the norm, we are beginning to wonder – will this inspire people to reconsider their funeral choices in the future. As a charity currently fighting funeral poverty in Scotland- we certainly hope so!
We hope that all the publicity that surrounded lockdown funerals will inspire people to choose a funeral that is both personal AND affordable. This year and last, we supported several people who probably would have gone down the traditional route had it not been for the lockdown restrictions.
Our hope as lockdown is eased is that people are inspired by the variety of ways people have said their goodbyes and begin to re-imagine what a funeral can be. You can provide a beautiful and personal goodbye that won’t place additional financial pressure on you at an already stressful time.
It’s time to reimagine what a goodbye is and remove the pressure on the bereaved to spend money they just can’t afford – since when has money been the measure of how much you love someone?
If we can help you or someone you know, then please do get in touch:
Call 03000 11 33 11
*Royal London Funeral Cost Index 2021
The answer in most cases, is yes as John* sadly found out.
John’s uncle sadly passed away a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, his uncle had not left any financial plans in place and John did not have any savings set aside.
As John visited each local funeral director, he was told the same thing – we cannot proceed without a cash deposit. Four months later and with his uncle still lying in the morgue, John was finally put in touch with Caledonia Cremation.
We immediately collected his uncle without a deposit and proceeded with his cremation. We also supported John through the whole process and helped him apply for financial support.
No one should have to experience such a heart-breaking situation when already faced with a bereavement. That’s why Caledonia Cremation was established – to help people like John and anyone facing funeral poverty.
Allowing people to say goodbye to their loved one in a dignified way without financial distresses should be everyone’s right. We are doing everything we can to make this happen.
If you or someone you know needs support or advice, then please do get in touch:
By phone 03000 11 33 11
By email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are here for you.
We commissioned some research* earlier this year to investigate Scot’s views on and knowledge of funerals and funeral prices. The results found that:
- At £6,535 for a funeral and send-off, 82% of those surveyed thought this price was too high
- 86% supported the funding of a funeral advice line to help bereaved families arranging a funeral and also to advise them on ways to keep their funeral prices down.
- 72% said that they would prefer to arrange a funeral through a not-for-profit funeral directors like Caledonia Cremation
- 56% would consider a direct cremation for their own funeral
Like us, most Scots are in favour of a new way when it comes to funerals.
Our hope is that more people begin to understand that there is a choice and they don’t have to take out a funeral debt they can’t afford to pay back.
On 27th April 2021, we were invited to discuss the poll with BBC Radio Scotland and you can listen to that interview below
*A representative poll of 600 Scottish people undertaken in November 2020.
Over the past 2 years, we have supported Marlyn through three family bereavements. In this blog, she kindly shares why she trusted us to assist her through these times.
For more information on organising a funeral or planning your own, contact Scotland’s only not-for-profit funeral directors – Caledonia Cremation. You can call our team on 03000 113 31 or email us on email@example.com
Sunlife’s Cost of Dying Report 2021 has found that the cost currently stands at £4,184*, up 1.7% since 2019, when it was £4,115. And since 2004, the average funeral costs have risen 128% since 2004.
As a campaigner against funeral poverty, this is a very concerning but all too familiar trend.
We believe that one reason people feel they have to pay these high prices is that there is no other option.
However there are alternatives that are dignified, more personal AND much less expensive.
Our advice is to take a moment to consider your options when organising a funeral or considering end-of-life planning
We offer direct cremation, which is sometimes described as a modern alternative. It provides the bereaved with the opportunity to organise a more personal send-off in a time-frame that is more suitable for them.
Direct cremation won’t be for everyone, but if you would like to discuss options that are open to you, then please do give us a call. We are a charity owned and operated, not-for-profit funeral directors, so our priority is your wellbeing – not profit.
Please do get in touch – 03000 11 33 11 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Sunlife average funeral cost is now weighted by the proportion of burials and cremations in the UK. They have updated the previous years’ figures to reflect this change in our calculation.
Everyone deserves the right to say goodbye to their loved one regardless of their financial circumstances
Would you like to help us end funeral poverty in Scotland?
In 2018 , the anti-poverty charity Community Renewal set up a not-for-profit funeral directors – Caledonia Cremation – to help bereaved people across Scotland who were prevented from saying their goodbyes due to huge funeral costs.
Funeral poverty is a real issue throughout Scotland and as funeral costs rise year after year. it means that one in seven are forced into debt following a bereavement, putting added strain on grieving families. When you imagine that the average cost of a funeral in Scotland is now £6,535, of which £4,229 is paid to the funeral director, you can see how this can have a devastating impact on families at the worst possible time.
Caledonia Cremation is committed to providing a dignified and caring solution. As well as providing not-for-profit direct cremations, we also offer practical and emotional support to everyone who contacts us.
To help us support as many people as we possibly can, we are reaching out to kind-hearted fundraisers to consider choosing Caledonia Cremation as their chosen charity.
Linda had been paying in instalments for her mother’s funeral, which had been two years prior when her brother died unexpectedly.
Working part-time in a minimum wage care role, and with a young family to care of, she had no spare money or savings and was not eligible for government financial support. The stress was giving Linda sleepless nights and required her to seek help from her GP.
Caledonia Cremation promised to help her and immediately carried out her brother’s cremation and also linked Linda with financial and practical support available to her.
We now need YOUR help so we can support more people like Linda.
Everyone deserves to say their goodbyes without the additional worry of financial stress
If you have any questions about raising money for Caledonia Cremation, then please do get in touch. Call 03000 113 311 or Email email@example.com
If fundraising events aren’t your thing but you would like to show your support then you can make a one off donation here
Thank you so much
Barbara Chalmers is the founder of Final Fling & Only Human
In this frank discussion, we explore why it is so important to start thinking about end of life plans and bust a few myths along the way.
As Scotland’s only charity-run funeral directors, we are happy to discuss our funeral plans anytime. We are not-for-profit, so there is absolutely no pressure – we are here to help.
Call our team on 03000 113 311 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Caledonia Cremation was set up 3 years ago to fight funeral poverty by providing not-for-profit dignified cremations across mainland Scotland.
However not everyone who chooses us does so because of financial reasons. The fact that we exclusively offer direct cremation appeals to a broad variety of people. For example, some don’t want a traditional funeral; some want more time to plan a more personal goodbye and some live overseas and need a way to repatriate their loved one.
And for some of these people, our ethos of supporting those facing funeral poverty, really strikes a chord with them. As a result, they want to support us even further by making a cash donation when they pay their bill.
One such case is Julie* who chose us to arrange her mother’s funeral. When it came to payment, they paid double so they could cover the cost for someone else who may otherwise struggle.
At that time a lady called Linda* was referred to us a by a charitable organisation. She had recently lost her mother and was still paying back a loan that she had taken out to pay for the huge funeral bill she incurred. When we met Linda, her brother had passed away and she had no idea how she was going to pay for another funeral.
“We didn’t have any savings, we just work month to month to pay our bills and live basically. We didn’t have any money at all.”
As Linda worked as a cleaner, she wasn’t eligible for the Funeral Support Payment but thanks to the unbelievable generosity of Julie, we were able to carry out the cremation of her brother
A show of support, no matter what the value, will help alleviate the unbearable worry experienced by those facing funeral poverty.
*Names changed to protect the privacy of those involved