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Funeral poverty on the rise as deceased family are left in mortuary for months

In 2018, the term “funeral poverty” was coined to describe the ever increasing number of families who struggle to pay for funerals for their loved ones. This came after shocking statistics were released that showed deceased people were being held in mortuaries and funeral parlours many months – in some cases more than a year – due to financial struggles of relatives.

In the year 2004, the average cost of a funeral sat just below £2000, whilst in 2017 it was already creeping up to just below £4000 – figures show that in 2018 the average spend was £4,078, a huge amount of money that can cause big problems for the families of loved ones who die without life insurance or a funeral plan.

The rising cost of funerals graph 2004 - 2036

Research carried out by ITV News earlier in 2018 showed that due to lack of finances, 25% of hospital trusts in England had held bodies in their mortuaries for at least three months. Even more shockingly, two trusts in particular revealed they’d kept deceased for 14 months.

The same study included funeral directors in the research, who told of holding bodies for up to eight months, again due to families being unable to pay for a funeral.

So, where does this increasing cost come from?

It might be easy to point the finger at the funeral directors themselves, but they say the price hikes are completely out of their control. In fact, it’s down the local councils, who are charging higher and higher prices to cover costs of both burials and funerals.

In the ITV News study, reporters spoke to one person whom the “funeral poverty” issue has affected: “My grandpa has been held for five months, there are no words to describe it. You can’t sleep at night, you can’t eat – all you’re thinking about is the funeral. You’re stuck in a limbo, you can’t move on. There’s no closure.”

Louise Milligan, Bereavement Services and Mortuary Manager for Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital added: “The cost of funerals can be extortionate. It’s horrible for us to see the families and to hear the families talking about that. The stress they’re under and it’s just delaying the grief process really. They’re trying to grieve, they’re trying to lay their loved ones to rest and they feel like they’re letting them down, it’s horrible.”


Don’t want your family to go through the same issues? Take away the financial stress and worry by setting up a funeral plan that will cover the full cost – no matter how much it may rise over the coming years. Find out more or get in touch to discuss your options.