Dominic Maguire, of the National Association of Funeral Directors, which represents over 80% of funeral directors in the UK, said that the BBC figures highlighted how bereaved families were continuing to be hit in the pocket by disbursement costs levied by local authorities.
He said: “We are extremely concerned about the rising cost of disbursements, which are outside the Funeral Directors’ control, and have raised the issue at Government level.
“Along with sharp price rises in burial and cremation fees imposed by local authorities, and as again highlighted by the BBC today, estate management costs have risen by 39% since 2013, whereas a survey by the NAFD last year showed that funeral directors have worked hard to keep their own costs down with only a 3.5% rise in the cost of their services in the past year, which can be mainly attributed to the rising cost of running a funeral home and fleet of vehicles, and like any other business, employment costs and issues such as business rates.
“The Funeral Directors’ fees now account for less than 50% of the overall funeral cost.”
Earlier this year the NAFD launched the Funeral Promise, a pledge to bereaved that members must offer a fair and visible price.
Mr Maguire also urged families to talk to their loved ones about their end of life, especially their wishes and costs.
He said: “The cost of dying can come as a shock to people at a time when they are already vulnerable, and we urge everyone to discuss the issues with their loved ones and plan ahead, so that when it comes to what is a very sad and difficult time, they will at least have the comfort of having something in place.
“We urge anyone who is in the planning stage to make financial provision for their funeral, and also to consider a pre-paid funeral plan, such as Perfect Choice, which will mean that money has been saved for the funeral and the family will not suddenly face a large financial burden, and also that enough has been planned for to allow the family to pay for the funeral that their relative wanted.”
Last year the NAFD launched My Funeral Wishes, a leaflet that can be downloaded via the Association’s website, which encourages people to plan their own funeral and which helps begin the difficult conversation of death.
Mr Maguire, a funeral director, said: “As a nation, Britain has been reluctant to talk about death, although there are signs that is changing. Talking about death can have a huge effect on feelings and emotions after a loved one has passed away, including knowing that you are giving them the funeral that they want.”
The NAFD is also campaigning to urge the Government to index-link the £700 social fund payment – which helps those most in need but which has remained static since 2003 – to help prevent more people falling into funeral poverty or having to borrow money to cover the costs of burying a loved one.