One in five cremations in the UK are now carried out without a funeral service or any family in attendance, it has been revealed. And the UK’s preference for ‘no frills’ direct cremations is growing at such a rate that they could exceed traditional funerals in popularity by 2030.

Almost five times as many people opted for the simple send-off of a direct cremation in 2020 than did in 2019, according to findings in the latest SunLife Cost of Dying Report.

Their growing popularity means that direct cremations now represent 19% of all cremations in the UK.

Direct cremations – which see the bodies of loved ones collected, cremated and returned to families or scattered as ashes – represented only 3 percent of all funerals (including burials) in 2019, but they made up 14 percent in 2020.

And during the first quarter of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of direct cremations (also known as direct funerals) rose to represent a quarter of all funerals in the UK, according SunLife’s 2021 report.

While families were unable to organise more traditional funerals due to government restrictions around Covid-19, the falling price of direct cremations was also seen as the key driver in their popularity.

Direct funerals were 9 percent cheaper in 2020 than in 2018, whereas traditional funerals rose in price by almost 13 percent during the same period.

Justin Cole, director at SunLife, said: “The pandemic may have triggered a fundamental shift within people’s attitudes and indeed the funeral industry.

“Most notably, the option of a direct cremation is becoming far more widely understood and accepted. Over 90 per cent of funeral directors now offer them.”

Thomas Loughran, managing director of Rest Assured, remarked: “We’ve seen a significant rise in the number of enquiries we receive for funeral plans around direct cremations.

“Their rise in popularity of direct funeral plans in the last year is something of a phenomenon.

“If the rate at which people are choosing direct cremations over traditional funerals continues, they’re certain to be the send-off of choice before the end of the decade.”

What is a direct cremation?

Direct cremation is a fuss free, simple and cheap alternative to a funeral. It is the cremation process without a funeral service. Typically, no family or friends are in attendance.

What is a direct funeral plan?

A direct funeral plan is an affordable way to ensure key end of life matters are taken care of with the minimum of fuss when the time comes. They cover the collection and care of the deceased until the time of the cremation, the cremation and return or scattering of ashes, as well as all legal paperwork require.

What are the advantages of a direct funeral plan?

  • Direct cremations save money and allow more to be left to family
  • Direct cremations avoid the upset of funeral services
  • Direct cremations allow family and friends to arrange a separate gathering in memory

What are the disadvantages of a direct funeral plan?

  • Families and friends cannot view their loved one at a chapel of rest
  • Mourners cannot gather to share in a funeral service
  • Families and friends cannot witness the committal to cremation

For more information about direct cremations and why a direct funeral plan might be the right plan for you, please contact Rest Assured Funeral Plans on 0800 065 4514