Survey Of Funeral Costs In Britain 2000
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Below is an on line version of "Survey Of Funeral Costs In Britain 2000" commissioned by "The Oddfellows".
Survey Of Funeral Costs In Britain 2000

Research | Quote substancially less than actual cost | Differences between quote and cost
Actual example (from East Anglia) | Check List | Advice on buying a funeral | 2000 Costs
Examples of extra costs and disbursements | Increases in cost | Payment
Funeral Directors - Quality of Service
Twenty years ago the Oddfellows started this survey of funeral costs in Britain.  This, the fourteenth edition, also looks at the costs and style of funerals held 100 years ago in North London and the average wages earned by working people at the time.  Though funerals today take a smaller proportion of the average person's salary, the cost is still a substantial amount for people of modest means to find.  Our aim is to encourage people to make financial provisions in advance of the event and to use this survey and check lists to get the funerals they want, for the price they can pay.
Research
The research was undertaken by Gilmour Research.  A sample of funeral directors was chosen to be broadly geographically representative of the population in Britain.  All major conurbations were surveyed plus a sample of major towns within each of the Registrar General's standard regions.  Names of the funeral directors were chosen at random from the internet based Yellow Pages source (Yell.co.uk) to replicate the way ordinary people would source this information.  The skilled interviewers used the "mystery shopper" technique, whereby they telephoned the chosen firms citing a likely real life situation as their reason for seeking detailed information.  All funeral directors were asked the cost of a basic funeral with burial, followed by probing questions to test the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the response.
Quote substancially less than actual cost
It is difficult to get an accurate costing for a funeral in advance of the event.  The final bill will be substancially more than the original. Why? There used to be a basic funeral available.  This provided a very simple burial or cremation at the lowest feasible price in the locality.  However, times have changed, as have people's expectations of what now constitutes a basic funeral.  Costs now come in three catagories:- Basic, disbursements and extras.  However, one funeral director's "basic" is another's "extra", e.g. a car for the family in three regions is a basic cost but not elsewhere.  Only one funeral firector gave the full price at the beginning when asked the price of a basic funeral.  Most funeral directors did not mention that the £200+ cremation fee was not included in their quote for a cremation!  Over the last 10 years we have found that funeral directors have tended to "hide" the true cost of funerals.  This means that the service is "sold" at a much lower price than the final amount the client actually pays.  Most funerals are organised by a close family member, often at a time of great stress.  To find that the bill has grown by 30%-150% is not going to help.
Differences between quote and cost
Burials
Average
quote 
£
Average 
actual price
£
Cost 
difference
£
Real price
over quote
£ 
London
1,131
2,646
1,515
+134%
North
892
1,741
849
+95%
South East
868
1,835
967
+111%

 
Cremations
Average 
quote 
£
Average 
actual price
£
Cost 
difference
£
Real price 
over quote
£
London
980
1,362
382
+39%
North
956
1,382
426
+44%
South East
894
1,835
967
+31%

 
 
 
Actual example (from East Anglia)
 
Burial 
£
Cremation
£
Initial quoted cost of funeral
710
804
Item:-
blank
blank
Coffin
included
included
Hearse
included
included
Directors Fees
included
included
Removal of body
included
included
Chapel of rest
included
included
Car for family
75
90
Burial plot and gravedigger fees
560
N/A
Headstone
800
N/A
Cremation Fee
N/A
275
Casket
N/A
60
Minister
69
64
Actual Cost
2,214
1,293
Funeral under-budgeted by
1,504
489
Percentage under quoted
212%
60%
Check List
To avoid the changing playing fields of catagories we have put together all the items needed for a basic funeral.  The prices for these make up our average national and regional costs.
Cremation
Hearse
Coffin
Director's fees
Removal
Chapel of rest
Family car
*Cremation fee
*Minister
Casket
*Doctor's certificate (x2)
Burial
Hearse
Coffin
Director,s fees
Removal
Chapel of rest
Family car
*Burial fee
*Grave-digger
*Headstone
*Plot
*Minister
*Doctor's Certificate
*Disbursements\extras which may not be included in the original quotation
There are some optional extras which you will always have to pay for.
Hygiene treatment
Extra car for mourners
Better quality coffin
Book of remembrance
Plaque in Garden of Remembrance
Spreading of ashes by third party
Hygiene treatment
Extra car for mourners
Better quality coffin
Advice on buying a funeral
  • If possible try to shop around, as the costs for a like-forlike funeral can vary by hundreds of pounds between different funeral directors in the same locality.
  • Make a list of the items you want to be included before contacting a firm.  See the funeral check list above.
  • Question the funeral director closely to ensure an acurate quote.  Knowing the cost in advance does not signify lack of respect for the dead, even though some funeral directors imply that it does.
2000 Costs
We found the average cost of a British funeral in 2000 to be:
Burial £2,048
Burials up 25% in two years
Cremation £1,215
Cremations up 12% in two years
Regional variations on costs
Burials
2000 Cost 
£
Index
1998 Cost 
£
Index
Change
GB Average 2,048 100 1,638 100 +25%
London 2,646 129 2,391 144 +11%
Rest of the South East 1,835 89 1,429 86 +28%
Scotland 2,217 108 1,912 115 +16%
Wales 2,233 109 1,300 78 +72%
West Midlands 2,203 107 1,620 98 +36%
East Midlands 1,847 90 1,269 77 +45%
North West 2.236 109 1,737 105 +29%
North 1,741 85 1,823 110 +4%
Yorkshire 1,983 97 1,632 98 +21%
South West 1,545 75 1,402 85 +10%
East Anglia 2,044 105 1,503 91 +36%
Regional variations on costs
Cremations
2000 Cost 
£
Index 1998 Cost 
£
Index Change
GB Average 1,215 100 1.085 100 +12%
London 1,362 112 1,302 144 +5%
Rest of the South East 1,174 97 1,020 86 +15%
Scotland 1,393 115 1,131 115 +23%
Wales 1,095 90 1,004 78 +9%
West Midlands 1,382 114 935 98 +48%
East Midlands 1,230 101 912 77 +35%
North West 1,181 97 1,292 105 -8%
North 955 79 1,308 110 -27%
Yorkshire 1,104 91 1,195 98 -8%
South West 1,354 111 915 85 +48
East Anglia 1,120 92 931 91 +20%

Examples of extra costs and disbursements
Better quality coffin- Coffins vary enormously in quality and price- from £95 in East Anglia upwards, but a Scottish quote for a "basic" Coffin ran at £1,295. £4,275 bought an american-style casket, including 32 ounces of bronze, hermetically scealed, with an adjustable bed choice of pink or white padded quilted satin lining, coverlet and pillow, split lid and lengthwise inside the lid apainting of The Last Supper.
Extra cars for mourners- These are typically charged at about £93- the cheapest we found was £75 in Yorkshire and the dearest £145 in London.
Hygiene treatment- Embalming is very rare- instead "hygiene" treatment of the body typically costs about £65- although we found one example at £115 in London and £35 in Yorkshire. 
Doctors' certificate- Two doctors' certificates are required before cremation takes place.  These have increased in cost from a standard £36 each in 1998 to $41 each in 2000.
Headstone- Costs vary according to the complexity of the headstone.  They can cost as little as £250 and up to over £1000.  A typical headstone is likely to cost around £450-£500.
Increases in cost
The six surveys we have done over the last 10 years show a steady rise in funeral costs, way above the rate of inflation.  Burials have increased at a faster rate than cremations.  This is accounted for by the price of funeral plots.  These are often owned by local authorities who now charge the market price for them.  Nearly half of all burialscost more than £2000.  The most expensive we found at £3928 was in Kentish Town.  The most expensive cremation at £1,696 was also in London.  The cheapest burials were £1,221 in Bristol and £1,380 in East Yorkshire.  The cheapest cremations were £692 in Cardiff and £882 in Newcastle.  The wide range of costs for the same funeral reinforces the importance of shopping around, if possible.
Rate of increase
Date of survey
Burials
Cremations
1991
£893
£726
1992
£1,022
£866
1993
£1,104
£894
1996
£1,523
£1,024
1998
£1,638
£1,085
2000
£2,048
£1,215

 Payment

Terms vary greatly between firms.  The invoice normally arrives 2-3 weeks after the funeral.  A standard £40 discount was often given for settlement within 30 days.  If they were kept informed of progress, most funeral directors were prepared to wait till probate or money from an insurance policy came through. 

Funeral Directors - Quality of Service

The researchers were all asked to analyse the manner in which their enquires were handled.  Apart from the difficulty of getting accurate quotes the majority of directors scored very wellin terms of their efficiency in dealing with enquires and the manner in which they dealt with the researcher.  The researchers were asked if they would be happy to deal with the firms surveyed in a real situation and again the response was most positive.  In fact a further improvement over previous years. 
 

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