The cost of a basic funeral in 2024

The bereavement of a loved one is arguably the most difficult experience any of us will face during our lifetime. Yet, it’s something we all have to go through at some point. Many of us will also have to arrange a dignified farewell, which, unfortunately, can be expensive.

The average cost of a basic funeral in the UK is around £3,740, which includes funeral director fees, plus third-party costs such as the burial plot. To cope with the costs, many are seeking simpler, more affordable alternatives to traditional funerals, like direct cremations or burials with unattended funeral services. 

As funeral costs vary across the UK, we investigated which cities have the highest funeral director fees for direct cremations and burials, and the price difference between direct funeral services and attended funerals.

Analysing the prices of these services in 40 UK cities, we compared rates from five different funeral parlours in each location to determine which cities have the most, and least, expensive funeral director fees for direct burials and direct cremations.

Brighton is the most expensive city for a direct burial in the UK

In order to reduce costs when saying goodbye to a loved one, many are now opting for a direct burial which is a straightforward burial with no ceremony or mourners present. 

If you choose this process, it’s important to remember that added fees like a grave plot and the interment fee (the cost of the burial) will need to be factored into your budget. Whilst a direct burial is more affordable, compared to an attended ceremony, these additional costs result in this still being more expensive than a direct cremation, which does not require any burial or grave fees. 

Funeral director fees for a direct burial covers transport and care for the deceased, whilst also allowing family members and friends to remember their loved one in their own way. 

This table shows the cities with the most and least expensive funeral director charges for a direct burial. The figures below are based on funeral directors’ charges only. Therefore, you will also need to consider the additional factors stated above, such as the cost of a grave plot in the local area, interment fees (the burial fee), as well as legal and administrative fees.

It’s also important to remember that direct burials are a fairly new method of saying goodbye to a loved one, therefore many UK funeral parlours are still yet to offer this option.

Top 10 Cities with
the Most Expensive
Funeral Director Fees
for Direct Burials
Top 10 Cities with
the Most Affordable Funeral
Director Fees
for Direct Burials
RankCityAverage cost of a direct burial (funeral director fees)RankCityAverage cost of a direct burial (funeral director fees)
10Newcastle upon Tyne£1,394
10Milton Keynes£1,124

Brighton is revealed to be the most expensive city in the UK for a direct burial, with the funeral director fees costing around £1,667. That’s nearly £900 more than Liverpool, the UK city with the lowest costs. 

Edinburgh, the second most expensive, is a similar price of around £1,621. Unsurprisingly, with high demand, London comes in third as the most expensive city, with funeral director fees averaging £1,549 for a direct burial.  

At the other end of the scale, the least expensive city for a direct burial in the UK is Liverpool, with an average funeral director cost of £797. Blackpool comes next, at £808, followed by Dundee, where funeral director fees for direct burials cost £852 on average.

The figures also do not account for the cost of a death certificate which is £11 in the UK. This is needed before arranging any type of funeral, whether it’s a burial or a cremation. 

The cost of a grave plot across the UK

Further fees you must pay if you opt for a burial is the cost of a grave plot and interment fee.

The cost of a grave plot can vary significantly across the UK depending on the type of grave, such as whether it’s a lawn or traditional grave site, the size of the grave, as well as the residential status of the deceased. 

The time period of which the grave plot is leased for can also impact the cost. Leases are referred to as an ‘Exclusive right of burial’ and usually last for around 50 to 100 years, however some city councils offer leases for as little as 25 years.

Since the way plots are priced can vary significantly, we’ve had a look at a small selection of cities across the UK to show how prices can differ:

CityExclusive right of burial costLength of exclusive right of burial (years)Interment cost
Birmingham City Council£2,27075£1,065
Derby City Council£1,331
Newcastle City Council£87850£966
Gloucester City Council£79150£801
Belfast City Council£633Unspecified£457

Grave plot costs in the capital are unsurprisingly much higher than other parts of the UK, with a new grave plot in Croydon being listed at £4,055, whilst in Harrow the cost of a plot for a local resident is listed at £3,230.10 (lease terms unspecified).

Belfast is the most expensive city for a direct cremation in the UK

Similarly with direct burials, direct cremations can be a more affordable, straightforward process than traditional cremations. Overall, direct cremations are more affordable than direct burials as you won’t need to factor in additional third party costs such as a burial plot. The funeral director charges for a direct cremation also encompasses the full service, including the cremation fee itself. 

If you decide on this process, there are no extra services, including a ceremony beforehand. Because of the lower cost, more and more people are opting for direct cremations in the UK. 

Whilst these funeral director fees are more expensive than the funeral director fees for a direct burial, it’s crucial to keep in mind the third party additional costs that need to be added on top for a direct burial, such as grave plot.

This table shows the cities with the most and least expensive funeral director charges* for a direct cremation:

Top 10 Cities with the
Most Expensive Funeral
Director Fees for
Direct Cremations
Top 10 Cities with the
Most Affordable Funeral
Director Fees for
Direct Cremations
RankCityAverage cost of a direct cremation*RankCityAverage cost of a direct cremation*
5Newcastle upon Tyne£1,695

*Funeral director fees for a direct cremation include funeral director charges plus the cremation fee. These costs also do not cover the doctor fee to clear a body for cremation, which is around £164 in the UK (excluding Scotland).

Belfast is revealed to be the most expensive city for a direct cremation, with funeral director fees costing £1,848. Brighton and London follow with costs at over £1,700. Meanwhile, Liverpool is revealed to be the cheapest city for a direct cremation, with funeral director fees costing £977 on average, followed by Glasgow and Southampton.

You can bury ashes in a local cemetery for an additional fee, however, you can also scatter ashes on another loved one’s burial site as long as you have exclusive rights of burial

It is also possible to take ashes away with you or scatter them somewhere meaningful to the person who has passed away. Some popular places to scatter ashes are:

  • Bodies of water, such as a river or the ocean – It’s important to note however that the Environment Agency recommends not scattering ashes in water on a windy day, and to also avoid areas with buildings and marinas, as well as areas where people are swimming or fishing.
  • Mountains or hills – Consider scattering the ashes at an accessible location so you can revisit the site easily in the future.
  • Your own land, such as a garden – If you live in a rental property however, make sure to seek the owner’s permission.

If you want to scatter ashes in public places, such as public parks, then you may need permission, so if you’re not sure, it’s always better to check with the local authority. If you want to spread the ashes on private land, you will need to get the landowner’s permission.

You can also take a loved one’s ashes abroad to be scattered. To do this, you will need to take the death certificate and certificate of cremation with you and make sure the ashes are secure in an airtight container that can be x-rayed at airport security.

How to prepare for paying for a funeral

With costs of burials and cremations increasing, it’s understandable why you might  opt for a more affordable farewell. Here are some tips for saving for a funeral: 

  1. Early planning

Start saving for funeral expenses as soon as you can. Put aside some money from your income just for funerals. Starting early helps you save money gradually, which will make things easier for your loved ones later on. 

  1. Life insurance 

Life insurance is helpful for covering funeral expenses. Explore the possibility of life insurance policies that cover funeral costs to suit your needs. Taking out an over 50s life insurance plan is a secure option to guarantee a sum assured (lump sum) for your loved ones at a time when they might need it the most, if something were to happen to you. 

  1. Stick to a budget 

Create a budget outlining the estimated costs of the funeral, including burial or cremation expenses, funeral service fees, transportation costs, and any other related expenses. You can also explore options for pre-planning or pre-paying for funeral services, which can help alleviate financial stress for your loved ones in the future.

Sources and methodology

The 40 cities used in this study were selected for the seedlist based on the most populated cities in the UK.

Cost of direct funeral, direct cremation and attended burial:

For each location, five funeral providers were chosen using Funeral Guide UK. The prices for a direct burial, a direct cremation, and attended burials were then taken from each provider’s own website and then averaged. Funeral parlours were selected by closest distance to the city. 

As the UK has many branches of large funeral chains with set prices, every effort has been made to select only one branch from funeral chains in each city where applicable in order to avoid skewing the data.

The average prices were then ranked from highest to lowest to reveal the most expensive, and least expensive, cities in the UK for each funeral method.

Cost of a grave plot in each city: 

We’ve also looked at the cost of an adult grave plot and interment costs at five different cities to show how prices can differ across the country. Prices for residents have been taken.