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24% of funerals now direct cremations

Almost a quarter of all funerals organised in the UK since the start of the pandemic have been direct cremations (24 per cent), equalling burials (25 per cent) making it a mainstream choice for UK families.

This represents an eight-fold increase in just three years, from two per cent in 2018 to 18 per cent in 2021.

The news comes from Sun Life’s annual Cost of Dying report1 which looked at the role of direct cremation in today’s society.

Direct cremation means there is no service, no church, no officiant, mourners, cars or flowers.

There is no doubt that cost considerations have played a part - direct cremation is the least expensive choice because at an average cost of £1,647 GBP it’s a fraction of the average basic funeral cost of £4,056 GBP.

But the story is bigger than that. As recently as 2018 the service was barely used, however the UK has seen a profound change in attitudes towards death and funerals, accelerated by the adoption of direct cremation as a practical option during the pandemic. The report states that 24% of families arranged a direct cremation for a loved one in 2020/21, making it a mainstream choice, comparable with the 25% arranging a burial.

Awareness of direct cremation continues to increase, with 64 per cent of consumers saying they were aware – up by five per cent on last year, which naturally this affects how many people select this farewell option.

These findings are in line with the results of a YouGov survey commissioned by Pure Cremation – a pioneer that has been at the forefront of direct cremation, reshaping the whole funeral marketplace with its high-quality, low-cost service, available across the whole of mainland UK, including Northern Ireland.

In their October 2021 survey Pure Cremation found 40 per cent of respondents were aware of direct cremation, compared with a similar poll carried out in November 2020, when just 29 per cent had heard of the service.

Pure Cremation, launched in 2015, was the UK’s first dedicated national provider of direct cremation and launched the first direct cremation pre-paid plan in 2016. In just six years Pure has become the UKs largest pre-paid plan provider by volume with sales in excess of 64,000 in 2021 – a fourfold increase on sales in 2020. This contrasts with falling sales for traditional pre-paid plans and is an important indicator that direct cremation is here to stay and will continue to shape the future of the whole market.

Wider provision of direct cremation has seen average direct cremation price rise slightly to £1,647 GBP in 2021, but Pure Cremation has bucked this trend too. Since 2017 they’ve held their UK-wide price for the cost of a cremation needed now at £1,195 GBP and the cost of a pre-paid funeral plan at £1,595 GBP.

The Sun Life report said: “Due to Covid19 restrictions in 2021 direct cremation has become an ever more popular – and practical – option for many.”

Paul Thilo of Pure Cremation said: “The Sun Life report confirms what our customers have told us for years – there is real demand for a more modern option that offers great value for money combined with high standards of care. The incredible rise in our pre-paid plan sales show that direct cremation is here to stay as consumers embrace the chance to choose a farewell that is less stressful, less expensive and easier to personalise.”

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Editor’s Note: For further information contact Celeste Clarke at Century PR on 07799064066 or email