The average cost of a funeral in 2019 was £3,785. If finding this money is a struggle, there are some options for reducing costs, and you may also be eligible for some benefits or other help. It is important where possible to find out what you can do before arranging the funeral, and not to feel pressured into committing too soon to something that you cannot afford.
Benefits and other help with costs
If your circumstances have changed, as a result of the person dying or for any other reason, you many need to get your benefits reassessed. Find out what you are eligible for.
- If you receive certain benefits you may be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment (or Funeral Support Payment in Scotland). Be aware that there is often a delay before receiving funds even if you are eligible, and the amount received may not cover the full costs of a funeral.
- You may be eligible for a bereavement support payment for husbands, wives and civil partners.
- In England the Children’s Funeral Fund for England can help to pay for some of the costs of a funeral for a child under 18 or a baby stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy. It is not means-tested: what you earn or how much you have in savings will not affect what you get.
- Other sources of funds include any money the person who has died may have left, some charities, and crowdfunding. There may also be options to set up repayment plans and loans.
Find out more from the Down to Earth website.
Public health funerals
If you have no money to pay for the funeral, or do not want to take responsibility, the council where the person died has an obligation to carry out a funeral. They should be able to arrange a simple, respectful funeral service. They are not required to allow mourners to attend, but often do. Some hospitals will also arrange funerals but they have no obligation to do so.
Keeping costs down
If you are on a budget there are other ways of keeping the costs of a funeral down, while still holding a meaningful and respectful farewell.
When it comes to arranging a funeral, many people go straight to a funeral director that they have used before, or the first that is recommended to them by friends or family. However, it is possible to ask a few different providers for their prices. Ask about their lower cost options, and don’t feel pressured to pay for extras if you can’t afford them.
There is no legal requirement to use a funeral director. With some research it is possible to handle all or some aspects of the process yourself. This approach will not be right for everyone, but some funeral directors will be open to a discussion about what aspects you can manage, and what it is better for them to deal with on your behalf.
A simple or direct cremation is an increasingly popular option. This is where a cremation is held with no ceremony. A memorial, thanksgiving service or celebration of life can be held at a different time in whatever format you chose.
Where to find more help
Down to Earth provides practical support for people struggling with funeral costs. Their website offers more information on benefits and funeral costs. Their helpline can provide one-to-one support to people when a funeral has not yet taken place. Call 020 8983 5055
You can contact the Cruse helpline for more support if you are struggling with the emotional aspects of planning a funeral. Call 0808 808 1677.
There are other organisations who can help with practical and financial matters after someone dies. See our useful links.