The cheapest direct cremation in the UK is £1068, and this covers all physician and crematorium fees, as well as the personal return of the ashes. This popular package typically includes all required third-party costs, including an urn.
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Death is the only other guaranteed thing in this world along with taxes. It can also be expensive, especially in the UK where the average cost of cremation with a funeral director is £3,500, plus £1,000 more for a burial. That’s quite a sum, considering there are other costs to cover, such as flowers, snacks for mourners, and the rest.
Aside from being pricey by default, traditional send-off prices are even rising uncontrollably. A non-ministerial government department in the UK conducted an inquiry into the country’s funeral market and found that in the last ten years, funeral directors have been charging up to 70% more and crematoriums up to 85% higher.
The good news is, for those who are not sold out on a conventional funeral, there is a no-frills, cost-effective option, a funeral without the typical service is called a direct cremation.
A direct cremation automatically eliminates the bells and whistles of a traditional send-off, possibly saving families tons of money.
If you opt for direct cremation, the body is cremated shortly after the death without any type of funeral service. As such, it is one of the cheapest options for disposition today.
For a breakdown of the service, you can find whats included in the cost of a direct cremation in our direct cremation guide.
In a typical cheap direct cremation, the body is placed in a basic but functional container instead of the usual far-from-cheap casket. There will be no viewing, visitation or wake prior, discarding the need to embalm the body or perform any other preparation. The family may also hold a post-cremation memorial service completely on their own terms, giving them full control over their expenses.
If you are considering your own choices and planning for when you die, you can take out a pre-paid direct cremation plan that will enable you to pay upfront so all costs are taken care of for your family in the event of your death.
Crematory staff are usually trained to manage cremation in all its aspects, from preparing the death certificate to picking up the body and bringing it to the cremation facility, often for a minimal fee on top of a basic service fee. A crematory may also charge a small portion of what traditional funeral homes collect for equivalent services.
However, for those who are planning to bury their beloved’s cremains in a cemetery or inter them in a columbarium, additions to direct cremation prices will be inevitable, such as cemetery service fees, the cost of the cemetery plot or columbarium niche, and so on. Then again, these are practically non-existent with a direct cremation package.
The cheapest direct cremation UK would be priced at around £1075, and this already covers all physician and crematorium fees, as well as the personal return of the ashes. A very popular package will typically include all required third-party costs, including the eulogy.
There is another in-demand and cheaper UK cremation package that allows families to hold a very simple type of funeral service for their loved one. For example, they may ask for a time of solemn reflection with background music they have chosen, or they may skip hiring a professional celebrant and deliver speeches themselves.
It may be extremely challenging to see which provider really charges the cheapest for direct cremation because each one will have their own packages, with and without various elements. To get the closest idea of the cheapest prices for direct cremations in England, it may help to analyse the most common cause: an elderly person peacefully passing on and the family asking for the ashes to be returned after the cremation.
Most recent data show that direct cremation in the UK costs around £1,700 but only because a lot of funeral directors charge excessively. This is in light of the fact that cremations by big corporate market leaders usually cost anywhere from £1,200 to £1,400.
Although the rule of thumb equates the cheapest option with the least value, direct cremation is most definitely the exception. Remember that the industry standard is to put up to four coffins in a van that usually travels to the crematorium unmonitored. Sometimes, the caskets won’t even visit the chapel and are loaded straight into the chamber through the back door, awaiting the cremator.
However, with a reputable service, this is far from how it works. In such a company, the funeral director will typically transport a single coffin in a luxury car to the crematorium, passing through the chapel entrance with appropriate music playing in the background. With other staff who are present, they will show their respects to the deceased by bowing before the coffin and will not act any differently, whether the family is present or not.
For those who are wondering how a cheap direct cremation service can still be top quality, the picture is simple. These services are designed for efficiency right from the beginning, with potential overheads reduced so that the families served can have a respite from their sorrow, even in the form of savings. They are more driven by their desire to help while still making a reasonable profit.
While direct cremation has become comparatively mainstream in the US, it is still not as popular in the UK, with only 2% of total cremations performed in this manner. Demand, however, is steadily and quickly growing. Within a year, some crematories have reported an increase of over 200% for direct cremation requests, while in others, at least a quarter of cremations are now done in this fashion, usually because it was the desire of the deceased more than anything else.
At the outset, it may seem like this bare-bones form of cremation will not give a dignified send-off for the decreased, but this is not the case at all. The first few times direct cremations were performed were upon the request of families who were looking for a more straightforward body disposition method. They didn’t have a word for it, but they were very specific about the package they wanted. And while it’s easy to assume that they were asking for the cheapest direct cremation due to pricing issues, the real reason was that it was what the deceased family member preferred.
Nonetheless, the send-off for a deceased in direct cremation will not be any less appropriate than other more traditional options. Additionally, people have different reasons for going this route aside from money. Some simply go for less trouble and formality, while others value the flexibility that this alternative offers them. Others may also want to schedule the celebration of life for the deceased at a much later date when all friends are family are sure to be around. They may do this in the summer at a beach or a country house.
A spin-off of sorts of direct cremation is called a back-to-front funeral, where the body will be cremated and a service will occur later but without the remains. In other cases, people will just want a moment of silence and reflection with their beloved, so it really all depends on preference.
However, even as direct cremation is a drastically less expensive yet equally dignified option, it doesn’t work for everyone, such as when the family wants a service with the body in the venue, But for anyone considering this cheap alternative to a traditional funeral, it’s always worth looking around for the cheapest package.
Even better, people should start figuring out what they want to happen to them when they die and tell their loved ones about it. Nobody wants to even imagine their own funeral, but it could be a very practical step that can save the surviving family a lifetime of financial burdens and other constraints.
Another crucial thing to remember is that while the cheapest direct cremation packages in the UK are generally affordable, a wide range of prices and services are out there, making it important to know what comes with each package, and more so whether the deceased will be treated with the utmost respect.
The main issue with direct cremation is that the moment the body enters the crematory, the family will no longer be able to view it in the funeral home like a traditional funeral would allow them. Even so, this doesn’t mean that the body will be mistreated in any way.
People who work in crematories usually view their jobs as a calling and will not treat the deceased any less properly than if the funeral cost was high. The body will still have a nameplate, wear a gown and be placed in a decent coffin. Before the cremation, funeral directors, morticians, and undertakers will pause for thought, just like they do for all types of cremation services.
Then again, even as providers of these services are bound by health and safety rules, there is no regulatory body that monitors their operations. Hence, it is the responsibility of the consumer to do a fair amount of research before deciding on a particular company. More than round-the-clock support, how the cremation is carried out is crucial, especially details like where the body will be held and whether the facility uses professional refrigeration facilities.
Moreover, some direct cremation companies market themselves as cost-effective options without being transparent enough to their customers, who will often be surprised with hidden charges after the service is provided. For example, some providers will add a crematorium fee of around £500. If the body was collected outside business hours or from home, another £150-£250 may be counted towards the final bill. Fortunately, there are many less profit-oriented companies that will not charge extra for anything, unless the family makes a specific and unique request.
Another thing consumers should look into is mileage limits. If the body has to be transported beyond a standard distance, there could be added costs. If the deceased needs a longer or bigger casket, the bill may be inflated by another £250 or so. Also, customers should check if the cremation quote includes doctors’ fees for signing the cremation form. If not, this could mean another £164 in added cost. If the cause of death is clear and the body ends up with a coroner, there’s obviously no need for this form to be signed by a physician. If doctors’ fees are part of the initial quote and there is no question about why the person died, this money should be returned to the family if there is a need for a coroner to investigate.
The truth is, many of these additional costs can be quite reasonable, but the problem begins when the company deliberately withholds information from the customer until it’s time for payment. As a consumer, it is always smart to ask about hidden costs before committing to a crematory service.
Lastly, it’s important to take time to know in advance what will happen to the deceased’s ashes. Collecting them is usually free for most services, but delivery would often come with an extra fee of around £95 through a special courier. Either way, higher-principled companies will typically return the ashes for free in about three weeks. If the customer would rather not have them returned, there is always the option to scatter them, usually in a place meaningful to the deceased or the family.
In any case, whether the customer prefers to pick up the ashes or have them delivered, it is important to know how the cremains will be returned. It can be disturbing to receive them in an unexpected form or package. For example, crematoriums will often use a biodegradable container or any basic container as an urn. If the family wishes to get an urn that suits their expectations better, it will be a decision all theirs to make.