UK Politics

Funeral cost rise triggers MP's 'garden burials' warning

Hearse and flowers Image copyright Thinkstock

Funerals are becoming so hard to afford that some people are burying relatives in their back gardens, according to an MP.

Emma Lewell-Buck said some people were holding "do it yourself" funerals with rising costs putting even a basic service out of many families' reach.

She proposed a bill calling for a review of costs and for providers to offer an affordable, simple service.

The Labour MP for South Shields said the average funeral had reached £3,551.

"The loss of a loved one can be one of the most devastating experiences we face... we want to give them a good send-off," she told MPs.

In October, SunLife Direct's annual Cost of Dying report said the average cost of a funeral had increased by 87% since 2004.

Ms Lewell-Buck said "funeral poverty" was a "taboo" subject, with the price of a service outstripping inflation and reaching £7,000 in some areas.

Image caption Emma Lewell-Buck said it was time to "break the silence" on funeral costs

Many people are turning to payday lenders to fund funerals and getting into "serious financial deficit" as a result, she told MPs.

"Some people are holding 'do it yourself' funerals and even having to bury relatives in back gardens," she said, adding that applications to the government's funeral payments scheme took weeks to be processed, with half of applicants rejected.

Calling for an end to the "silence" on the subject, she added: "I understand these are difficult conversations, but they are important ones."

Ms Lewell-Buck's Funeral Services Bill, presented under the 10-minute rule, was listed for its second reading debate but is unlikely to progress due to lack of Parliamentary time.

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