When it comes to parent funeral cover, those with limited means in the UK cannot rely on the government to provide comprehensive assistance. According to data provided by the University of Bath’s Institute for Policy Research in 2014, the average cost of dying in the UK is rising rapidly. The current average cost of £7,622 (for a burial or cremation and funeral service) represents an 80% increase from the fees one could expect to pay in 2004. During that same period, however, government assistance remained relatively static. This has left approximately 100,000 people in danger of experiencing a serious shortfall should they unexpectedly lose a parent.GET A QUOTE
The reasons for this dramatic increase in burial and funeral costs are manifold. The funeral industry is itself partly to blame; industry stagnation (brought on by a lack of competition) has allowed the price of a typical burial and funeral to rise to £3,456. At the same time, the cost of services in general in the UK has risen, meaning that ‘extras’ like a memorial, flowers, and catering services can easily add up to more than 2000 pounds. Discretionary estate administration costs have also been allowed to balloon; these now carry an average price tag of £2,160.
In the past, the Social Fund Funeral Payment was expected to handle parent funeral cover for low-income individuals. With the kind of rate increases described above, however, most people today are finding it woefully inadequate. The University of Bath reported that most people who receive funeral benefits still experience an average shortfall of £1,277. For those who are already struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, this debt load can be absolutely crippling. According to the report, ‘funeral poverty’ has risen by 50 per cent in just three years due to this discrepancy.
The report also criticised the Government benefits program (which is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions) for being needlessly complex, incomprehensible, and all-round insufficient to meet the needs of grieving low-income families. Among the most problematic aspects of the current system is the fact that it obligates eligible families to commit to funeral expenses before they actually submit their benefits claim. This puts them at risk of making choices they cannot actually afford.
Experts like Dr Kate Woodthorpe, who works for the University of Bath’s Centre for Death and Society, believe that the system will face further threats in the future. ‘We know that the long-term decline in death rates is about to reverse, with a projected rise in the number of deaths around 15 to 20 per cent in the next two decades,’ says Dr Woodthorpe. ‘We also know that right now, with some of the lowest death rates ever recorded, the safety nets provided by the state via the Social Fund Funeral Payment and local authority public health funerals are under pressure. Their sustainability into the future is debatable.’
To prevent financial stress and ensure proper parent funeral cover, families are therefore being advised to rely on savings rather than the system. Placing money in a funeral trust where it can grow in step with the rising cost of funeral services is the best way to prevent ‘funeral poverty’. Fortunately, there are many affordable funeral plans available online for low-income families that cover fully 100 per cent of funeral costs.