They say there are only two certainties in life. Death and taxes. However it now seems that both are equally as extortionate and bias towards the wealthy.
A recent report from RT News reported that the costs of funerals in the UK are higher than ever before. They report that the cost is up by 50-80% for even the most basic of services.
But why? We all die. We all have to be disposed of in one way or another whether that is burial or cremation. Obviously the more elaborate a funeral service the more expensive it will be but with minimum costs of between £3,750 to £5000 and the average cost within the UK is reported to be £8000 (the average cost in France is only £2200) then how on earth can we afford to have our loved ones laid to rest?
According to the Centre for Death and Society one in five people now struggle or fail to afford a funeral when they lose a loved one. According to the DWP they and the Government do their fair share to help people who can not afford to pay a high street undertaker and “meet the costs in full”. They state that “successful applicants” receive a contribution towards the fee levied by funeral directors and this fee currently £700. They say other costs such as Doctors certificates and fees and add ons sold by directors are also met in full. Sounds brilliant. Those of us (one in five) who can not afford to get help to give their loved ones a service after death can get help from the Government. However, the average Government payment last year was only £1,225 which means then that those applying have to find several thousand pounds extra. On top of this, the report conducted by RT found that the scheme run by DWP is “insufficient, overly complex and outdated” with people having to commit to funeral cost prior to applying for a payment.
The cost of a single grave plot for a coffin can range from £750 to £2500 but if you are burying a casket rather than coffin the cost rises to £1100 to £3500! Add to that the cost of the church or chapel for a service which can range from £50 to in some places £200 then you are already way out of most people’s budgets. Then lets consider the price of a coffin or casket which range from several hundred to tens of thousands of pounds. Personally I do not see the point in expensive coffins or caskets to simply bury underground never to be seen again but each to their own. When you choose your coffin or casket you are then bombarded with a choice of handles, trimmings, plaques, decoration etc etc etc. the list is endless and costs keep mounting.
We all know the nation is in a financial mire and welfare is being stripped back to the bare bones for those in need of support. We also know that big corporations, banks and other people and companies tucked up in bed with Government ministers seem to be receiving tax cuts and favours along with generous suggestions by “independent think tanks”. So is the ever increasing rise in funeral costs and lack of support from Government a ploy to force people into taking out life insurance policies? Why are the costs of dying so rapidly rising? What has changed to justify a rise of almost 80% in cost? Surely the cost of caskets hasn’t increased that much? Is it the cost of land to extend cemeteries? Is it the increase in energy prices making it more expensive to fire up the oven for cremation? Or is it simple greed from high street funeral directors who often deploy pushy, seemingly sympathetic emotionally charged sales techniques to talk families into paying for little but expensive extras?
This is not something which only impacts upon a few. Whether you like it or not we are all going to die one day. It is one of the few things that every single person on the planet has in common. We should not be restricted by class or wealth when it comes to death and I think it is time the Government step up and take control of this situation. A cap on the rising costs. A restriction on life insurance sales pitches. A basic fixed fee national funeral package. An affordable and fair repayment package… There are a number of things which Government, Life Insurance companies and Funeral Directors could do to make death much more affordable for all so why are they not doing it?
I don’t have the answer. Yet. If you can explain then please do let me know.
So long as this unmanageable rise in costs continues we will inevitably see a rise in debt or “paupers funerals”.