The Tonight Programme Examines The Cost of Funerals in "Funerals: A Costly Undertaking"

 
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We all know that funerals aren't the cheapest of events, but it’s human nature to avoid directly addressing this issue as that would involve staring our own mortality, and that of our nearest and dearest full on in the face.

For many of us it's easier to ignore and to push the matter on the back burner as something that we will deal with as and when it happens.



The high cost of a modern funeral

The recent Tonight investigation into the cost of funerals and people’s attitudes to them aimed to shine a light onto these issues and encourage us all to confront the financial realities of these, most difficult of life events.

Interesting they point out the cost of a funeral has doubled over the last ten years to an average of £3600, and there is no reason to suspect this trend won’t continue into the next decade.

The loss of close family members are some of the toughest times most of us will deal with in our lives and the last thing most of us are prepared to deal with is the unexpected financial cost that comes with giving our loved ones the send-off we believe they deserve.

Tonight’s end of life survey results

The Tonight programme did their own end of life survey to assess where most people stand in relation to funerals and their associated costs. Their survey revealed a shocking lack of knowledge and communication relating to our end of life plans.

  • 78% of people had not researched into possible options for funerals.
  • 53% of people had not communicated their funeral wishes to their loved ones.
  • 62% didn’t know the average funeral costs.
  • 44% had no plan to cover funeral costs, and 30% who were asked said they would have to use a credit card.
  • 49% of those surveyed, who had organised a funeral previously confirmed that knowing what the deceased wanted had made it easier to plan and organise the event.

The cost of being unprepared

Tonight also observed that whilst funeral costs have increased, so has our borrowing. Funeral debt is at an all-time high of £147 million nationally, which can only be set to increase over the next few years.

During parts of the programme the producers interviewed a number of viewers who had recently dealt with the funerals of close family members and whilst this was enlightening, unfortunately it didn’t give a balanced view and felt a little biased against the whole industry.

The consumers interviewed on the whole had only had bad experiences when dealing with arranging funerals, but clearly there are many funeral directors out there who work hard to provide a good value service, as well as really caring about the families they deal with. A more balanced set of interviews would have been more representative.

As well as asking consumers for their experiences the programme also interviewed Rosie Inman-Cooke who is in charge of a funeral consumer charity. She advised that consumers are often unprepared to plan or pay for a funeral and this can result in them spending more than they intended or need to.

What to do next?

Whilst the Tonight programme posed many questions and didn’t always offer many answers, it did cover a lot of the issues and highlighted a financial burden few of us even consider until it’s too late. When perhaps all it takes is a little forethought and discussion, alongside some simple funeral planning to ensure we leave our loved ones with nothing but happy memories when we are gone.

Further Funeral Resources: