There’s a story in the Scottish Daily Mail, 7 June, that exemplifies very well the misinformation and scaremongering that are characteristic of media treatment of funerals in the UK. Here it is:
LOCAL authorities and funeral directors are making money out of family misery, with ‘the cost of dying’ reaching thousands of pounds in Scotland, according to a trade union.
The GMB union said funeral charges would come as ‘a real shock to many in Scotland’.
Both Edinburgh and Glasgow councils charge about £2,000 for burials. Other councils are not far behind, with South Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire and Perth and Kinross all charging more than £1,500.
Even the cheaper option of cremation is almost £1,500 in Edinburgh and more than £1,000 in Glasgow, South Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, Aberdeen and Fife.
Total UK funeral costs average more than £7,000.
GMB Scotland secretary Harry Donaldson said: ‘ Someone is making a lot of money out of people’s bereavement. At a time when the cost of living occupies most peoples concerns, it will be a real shock to many in Scotland that the cost of dying is so high.
‘Few people have any idea of how much even a simple burial or cremation actually costs.’
Here come the facts:
The average established funeral home owner earns between £30,000–50,000 a year. Have I got that about right?
The cost of cremation in Edinburgh is, actually, £594–675.
The £7,000 cost is the one put about by Sun Life to frighten people into buying financial products. It bundles all sorts of extraneous stuff like probate. The cost of a cremation funeral is way under half of that (with the odd dishonourable exception).
Burial charges are the bargain of all time. What’s the real cost of a grave once you’ve factored in maintenance and mowing for ever? £14 million, anyone?
The funeral industry isn’t great at news management, too often finding itself in reactive mode. Some players let the side down badly, too. Co-operative Funeralcare is in the news again today for burying the wrong body — again. Some funeral celebrants let the side down too. If you’ve a few mins to spare, watch this promo film by an outfit called the Fellowship of Independent Celebrants. It may have a regrettable whiff of ‘making money out of family misery’.