Soaring funeral costs are responsible for some Dundee families falling behind on their rent – and even preventing them from grieving properly.
Funeral costs have risen an average of 6% a year since 2004 – double the rate of inflation according to the UK Competition and Markets Authority.
The CMA figures show that on average funerals now cost £4,300, with optional extras clocking up a further £2,000.
Statistics in the report state that among the poorest people this amounts to 40% of their annual expenditure.
The figures add that in 2018 a third of next-of-kin had to contribute to the cost and they faced an average shortfall of £2,559.
Dundee University researchers Ruth Bickerton and Carlo Morelli are investigating the impact of funeral costs, while a new charity has been set up in the city to help families cope in the aftermath of a bereavement.
In a report published on The Conversation they state: “Having to find this money is an additional stress at a horrible time.
“Anecdotally, housing officers in Dundee tell us that funeral debts are the reason rent hasn’t been paid and there are church ministers whose members of their congregation can’t grieve properly for worrying about such costs.
“Grieving families do not act as what economists would call ‘rational agents’.
“They are vulnerable and frequently haven’t organised a funeral before. They want to give their loved one the best possible send off, and consider it disrespectful to look for a ‘good deal’– particularly if the deceased’s wishes were never made clear.
“They rarely query funeral quotes and often feel pressure to fund things they cannot afford.”
Both Dignity and Co-op, state the CMA, the market leaders for funerals, have seen their average revenue increase significantly ahead of inflation between 2013 and 2017.
The CMA claims that Dignity’s standard funeral costs £3,500 whereas the Co-op’s costs £3,097 but across Dundee prices vary between £700 and £3,265.
A new charity called Funeral Link has now been set up in Dundee in order to help people organise funerals.
May Kinninmonth, chairwoman of the charity’s board of trustees, said: “We were always aware funeral poverty was a problem in the city.
“We are here to help people organise the right type of funeral for the person they have lost by putting them in touch with the local funeral directors and florists, things like that.
“When you’re bereaved, you want to get the best thing for the person you have lost without worrying about the cost.
“Two things most people are loathe to talk about is death and finances. We’re doing work to demystify the process.
“It’s hard to say why funeral poverty is a problem in Dundee but there are areas of the city where people are living in poverty and that brings more deaths of those aged about 30 to 60 years old.
“These are the types of funerals that aren’t planned for, so problems can arise. We want to work with people to ease that process.”