Funeral Car
The report's authors estimate that more than 100,000 people will struggle to pay for a funeral this year alone.Reuters

Britain's worst off people may not even be able to afford to pass away because the cost of dying is so high, according to new research.

The Funeral Poverty in the UK report, which was conducted by the University of Bath, challenges the government to rethink its Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)-administered Social Fund Funeral Payment, which the research argued is "outdated" and "overly complex".

The study revealed that the average cost of dying has risen by 7.1% in the past year – now standing at £7,622 (including funeral, burial/cremation, plus estate administration).

The report's authors also estimate that more than 100,000 people will struggle to pay for a funeral this year alone.

"With growing funeral costs, quite simply, growing numbers of people might find they can't afford to die. Government must act now before the current issue of funeral poverty becomes an even more significant future crisis," said Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of the International Longevity Centre-UK.

She added: "As a society we don't talk enough about dying. But nor do public policy makers. We must find a way to open a debate about dying early and ensure that we and our families are as prepared as we possibly can be."

The average cost of a funeral in fact rose by a massive 80% between 2004 and 2013, and the costs of dying are expected to continue to increase over the next five years.

In addition, the report found that on average the price of a typical funeral, including non-discretionary fees and a burial or cremation, is £3,456.

The average amount spent on extras such as a memorial, flowers and catering is £2,006.

Discretionary estate administration costs have also increased significantly to £2,160.

For families on low incomes, the Social Fund Funeral Payment, first introduced in 1988, is intended to support those who struggle to find the money to pay for a funeral.

But the report challenges the effectiveness and availability of this provision by highlighting an average shortfall of £1,277 that many face, the report suggests that "funeral poverty" today is some 50% higher than three years ago.

A DWP spokesperson said: "The Funeral Payment scheme continues to cover the necessary costs of burial or cremation in full, because we know that these costs may vary widely across the country.

"A significant contribution is also made towards the fee levied by Funeral Directors which is currently set at £700.

"Other costs are also met in full, for example the cost of any doctor's certificates and certain travel expenses."