Cost of dying soars as families 'pushed into funeral poverty'

The cost of a basic service has almost doubled in the last decade to more than £4,000.

Funeral poverty: Cost of dying soars to more than £4,000 for basic send-off in Scotland

Grieving families are being forced into funeral poverty as the cost-of-living crisis deepens in Scotland.

Figures show the cost of a basic funeral service has almost doubled in the last decade to more than £4,000.

Donna-Marie Harper, from Ardrossan, forked out more than £3,600 for her friend Adam’s funeral earlier this year.

Adam, who she met through church decades ago, had left a detailed plan but not enough savings to cover the cost.

Devastated Donna had to go against her friend’s last wishes and have him cremated instead of buried, with the help of a charity.

She told STV News: “He wanted buried, he knew the songs he wanted. As soon as I said that Adam was a pensioner and it would be [paid for with] benefits, they weren’t interested.

“Adam worked all his life. It was his wishes, but you can’t give him it due to finances.

John Halliday from Caledonia Cremations.

“For a basic burial, no cars, no service, it was £3,600.

“It was heartbreaking, so traumatic. I didn’t know what to do, especially when trying different places and getting the door closed. These are his wishes and you can’t give him it.”

The Scottish Government offers a funeral support payment to people receiving benefits, with the average amount being £1,800, but certain criteria must be met.

Donna phoned a charity in a desperate bid for help and said they showed her “compassion” when she needed it most.

She added: “It’s the last thing you’re going to do for that person, but it’s so easy to get in debt.”

A recent report found more than a fifth of people have used a credit card to pay for a funeral, 10% took out a loan and 16% sold belongings.

With inflation and interest rates rising, charities offering non-for-profit cremations are seeing more people falling into funeral poverty.

John Halliday, from Caledonia Cremations, said: “We’re a decade into what I call a cost-of-dying crisis.

“Costs have at least doubled to unacceptable amounts. It’s actually a great driver of inequality and now, more than ever, people are really feeling that.”

Basic costs are rising for funeral directors.

Dominic Maguire, of funeral directors Anderson Maguire, discussed how basic costs are also rising for providers in the industry.

The firm has introduced a simple funeral plan for those struggling to ensure their loved one has a dignified memorial service.

He said: “In the last year there has been a large increase in material we use to bring in coffins, the transport costs going up quite considerably, the cost of replacing our fleet of vehicles too.

“Everything involved in our work has increased and in some cases quite dramatically.

“If you find yourself in this financial situation, please speak to funeral directors and try to tailor some sort of package.”