What is the cheapest way to be cremated in the UK?

The cheapest way to be cremated is to have a direct cremation, also known as ‘cremation without ceremony’ or ‘unattended cremation’.

A direct cremation is the cheapest cremation because only the basic services for a cremation are required.

  • Direct cremation costs have fallen 5% since 2018, to £1,626 on average
  • In 2019, only 3% of all funerals in the UK were described as direct cremation
  • Awareness of this type of funeral is growing, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic when there were restrictions for funerals

Whether you’re planning ahead for your own funeral or arranging a funeral for a loved one today, you may wonder:

Continue reading as we explain all below…

What is a direct cremation?

A direct cremation is the simplest and quickest cremation funeral.

After death, the deceased is taken directly to the crematorium to be cremated without a funeral procession or service beforehand.

A direct cremation is also known as an ‘unattended cremation’ as there are no mourners present.

The time and date of the cremation is decided by the crematorium.

Direct cremations are designed for those who may not have the money for a traditional cremation funeral, but also for those who’d rather a low-key send-off.

How much does a cremation cost?

A standard cremation funeral in the UK costs on average £3,858.

This amount takes into account the average cost of funeral director services, cremation fees and doctors’ fees.

Then you have the send-off costs which include flowers, limousine hire, catering and venue hire (average spend in 2019: £2,306).

However, if you go with the cheapest option of a direct cremation, then there are a range of providers offering direct cremation packages from just £900.

In 2019, the average amount spent on direct cremation in the UK was £1,626.

A direct cremation costs considerably less because you wouldn’t need to pay for funeral director services or an officiant to hold a ceremony and there won’t be any need for limousines or flowers.

Following the cremation, family members may wish to hold a wake or memorial which is an additional cost to consider.

What happens at a direct cremation?

What happens before, during and after a direct cremation is usually as follows:

  1. The funeral provider arranges collection of the deceased in a suitable vehicle
  2. The deceased is taken to the mortuary and cared for until the cremation
  3. The cremation takes place as soon as possible, at a time to suit the funeral provider
  4. Only the crematorium staff are present at the committal
  5. After the cremation of the body, which takes up to three hours, the ashes are prepared and placed in a simple container.
  6. The ashes are either scattered at the grounds of the crematorium or given to loved ones

As there is no funeral service, loved ones could arrange a separate memorial or celebration of life at a separate time and place if they wish.

What’s the difference between a standard cremation and direct cremation?

The differences between the services that may be included in a standard cremation funeral and a those of a direct cremation funeral are shown in the table below:

Services Standard cremation Direct cremation
Funeral director services Yes No
Professional guidance Yes Yes
Collection, transportation and care the deceased Yes Yes
Choice of time and date for cremation Yes No
Choice of crematorium Yes No
Choice of coffin Yes No
Pallbearers Yes No
Viewing of the deceased at the chapel of rest Yes No
Hearse or choice of alternative vehicle Yes No
Funeral procession with limousines Yes - limousines optional No
Funeral service at church or crematorium chapel on the day of the committal Yes No
Return of ashes Yes Yes

What is the cheapest way to be cremated, other than a direct cremation?

Whilst a direct cremation is the cheapest way to be cremated, it won’t be the right way for everyone.

The hasty collection and cremation of a deceased loved one, without the opportunity to say goodbye beforehand, may be unsettling for some family members.

Other ways you can have a cheap cremation funeral:

Shop around for the best prices

Find the cheapest cremation in your area by shopping around and comparing the prices and services offered by local funeral providers and crematoriums.

Some of the bigger providers, such as the Co-op, offer a broad range of funeral services at competitive prices.

Freeze rising cremation costs

Did you know that with a prepaid funeral plan you can freeze your cremation costs at today’s rate?

This could save your loved one's money in the future, particularly as cremation costs continually rise at an unprecedented rate (+123% since 2004).

At Reassured, we can help you arrange a prepaid funeral plan for a simple, low-cost cremation.

Prices start from as little as £20.38* a month.

Get your free no-obligation quotes from award-winning broker Reassured today.

They also own crematoriums across the UK, so it’s likely they’ll have one near to where you live.

You could use our award-winning broker service to compare prices for prepaid funeral plans on your behalf.

Prepaid funeral plans allow you to pay in advance for your funeral, avoiding rising funeral costs and save your loved one's money in the future.

Get in touch for your free prepaid funeral plan quote today.

Have an attended funeral with Simplicity Cremations from £1,395

Simplicity provides attended cremations that allow your family to attend the crematorium chapel for a short service before the committal.

An attended cremation is still cheaper than a standard cremation funeral because there isn’t a procession beforehand and family members would carry out the service themselves, avoiding the cost of a minister or celebrant.

Have a simple ‘send-off'

In 2019, people spent on average over £1,000 on flowers, limousines, venue hire and catering. If you want to make big savings on a cremation funeral, this is a good place to start.

The family could arrange their own transport, flowers could be kept to a minimum and the wake could be held in someone’s home free of charge.

Have a ‘Do It Yourself’ funeral

A Do It Yourself (DIY) funeral means family members would handle all the arrangements of the funeral instead of using a funeral director.

A DIY funeral would include the following arrangements:

  • Caring for the deceased before the cremation
  • Booking the cremation with the crematorium
  • Organising the paperwork e.g. cremation certificate, medical certificate
  • Sourcing and purchasing a suitable coffin or casket
  • Arranging and holding the funeral service or ceremony
  • Arranging or providing transport for the deceased to and from the crematorium
  • Organising of the order of service, flowers, venue, catering and so on

This type of funeral may save you money but could also be stressful for the family particularly whilst they are grieving.

Donate body to science for a free cremation

This may be more difficult with the threat of coronavirus still looming - but it’s possible to donate your body to science and won’t cost your family a penny.

Medical and scientific institutes across the UK accept body donors for anatomical examination.

How do you cremate someone with no money?

If you’re unable to arrange and/or pay for the funeral of a loved one who has passed away and there isn’t enough money remaining from their estate to cover the funeral, then the following options may be available:

  • The local council or hospital can arrange a Public Health Funeral, (or ‘Pauper’s funeral’)
    A Public Health Funeral is usually a basic cremation and includes a short funeral service that loved ones can attend
  • Those on certain benefits can claim a Funeral Expenses Payment from the government
    A Funeral Expenses Payment may help cover some funeral costs such as the cremation fees, doctors’ fees, and moving of the body. How much you get will depend on your individual circumstances
  • Raise funds by using a crowdfunding platform
    You could fund a funeral by sharing your story on a crowdfunding platform such as Crowdfunder.co.uk or GoFundMe. Although, it’s difficult to know exactly how much you’ll be able to raise and if you’ll have enough in time for the funeral

Can I arrange my own cremation?

Yes, you can arrange your own cremation in advance with a prepaid funeral plan.

Once you take out a funeral plan, you can make all the arrangements for your funeral with the appointed funeral director.

They’ll record all your funeral wishes and take care of everything when the times comes.

A funeral plan also allows you to pay for all your funeral services at today’s price.

The cost of a basic cremation funeral has risen 123% since 2004 and this rising trend is forecast to continue.

With a funeral plan, you can protect your loved ones from the significant cost of your funeral whilst also protecting them from higher funeral costs in the future.

Reassured can compare prepaid cremation funeral plans on your behalf to help you find the right plan for you and your family.

Funeral plans arranged through Reassured start from as little as £20.38* a month or £3,220 in full.

Make the most of our free, award-winning quote service today.


[1] Sunlife


*£20.38 per month includes a £75 discount only available to Co-op members, based on a 50-year-old purchasing a Simple Funeral Plan at £3,220 after discount with 25 years payment term (total amount payable £6,115.40)

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At Reassured, we will provide you with quotes from Co-op Funeral Care, Dignity Funeral Services and Simplicity Cremations.

All of the funeral plans we provide are fully regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) ensuring you and your money are protected.

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