With the rising cost of funeral care services comes a real impact of a financial burden to the bereaved family members left behind. 1 in 6 people who have dealt with the funeral planning said they have struggled with funeral costs. The average funeral debt taken on by bereaved people due to funeral care costs is £1,680.
Within those who struggled with costs, people have resorted to different ways of meeting the gap between what they can afford and the actual amount they needed to pay. The chart below shows that 35% of those who struggled used their personal savings, 26% borrowed money from family and friends, and 23% resorted to taking more debt on to meet the shortfall.
There is a state benefit available within the UK for people who are struggling to afford the funeral costs for their loved ones but this amount has not changed since 2003 even when the actual cost has risen annually. The costs for what is necessary is fully covered and the amount is given for ‘other costs’ remains unchanged.
The high percentages of people who result to using savings or have gone into debt can experience serious financial issues for years after their loved ones have passed away. People who went into debt or borrowed money may face having to pay the additional interest over a period of time and can potentially lengthen the average life of their debts.
Bereaved people are feeling the crunch at a time when they should be mourning the loss of their loved ones. People on low or modest incomes have to deal with the distress of wanting to give their loved ones a send-off they deserve but also not being able to afford to do so.
Funeral Directors, the main source of guidance for bereaved family members, have been proactively doing their part in making sure that options are available for those who are struggling with funeral debt. 22% of bereaved people said their funeral director offered options for the most affordable funeral care package.
The Scottish Government published their Funeral Costs Plan in August 2017 outlining their plans to help address the funeral poverty and making affordable options available. This is a huge step in recognizing that there is an existing and growing issue regarding Funeral Poverty.
Policymakers and the DWP are also making steps towards assisting the most vulnerable bereaved but a lot more needs to be done to ensure that people who are already financially struggling wouldn’t have to burdened more with the costs of losing a loved on.