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Published on 13 October 2011 10:00 AM

Dying is becoming an increasingly expensive business, with a survey showing a substantial hike in the cost of burials and cremations in the last year - and Scotland emerging as one of the priciest places to get cremated.

Research by the Post Office has revealed that the average cost of a burial plot (now £792, an increase of £58, or 8 per cent on last year) can vary by more than £1,000 across the United Kingdom. It further shows that Scots pay an average of £532 for cremation, the fifth highest average price for the service across the UK.

Northern Ireland is the cheapest part of the UK for a plot of land for a burial, with a plot costing on average £283. Scotland ranked seventh out of 12 for the cost of burial plots with an average cost of £643 – an increase of £43 or 7 per cent in the past year.

There were 53,856 deaths in Scotland in 2009, with roughly 60 per cent of people being cremated and 40 per cent buried. The majority of funerals in Scotland cost about £2,500 - £3,500. Cremations are in the region of £2,000-£2,600 for a package including a limousine for immediate family, the hearse and family flowers.

Dom Maguire, spokesman for the National Association of Funeral Directors which represents firms organising about 85 per cent of funerals in the UK, confirmed that services are getting more expensive but said that the price of plots is determined by the law of supply and demand.

Mr Maguire, who is managing director of Glasgow-based funeral directors Anderson Maguire, also warned against being seduced by celebrity-endorsed products, saying: “Many insurance company offers are not funeral plans. What families should remember is that on the day of the funeral, neither the celebrity nor the insurance firm will be there, but your family funeral director most certainly will.”

Logan Steele, General Manager of Age Scotland Enterprises said: “We advise people to start thinking ahead for their old age – and this includes their pension, where they want to live out their later life and, because death is part of life, their funeral.

“At a time when family members are coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, handling funeral arrangements can naturally be a stressful and difficult task. We recommend people try and fix a price for their burial or cremation now, because like any other commodity, the cost will inevitably go up.”

As part of its product range for older people, Age Scotland offers a funeral plan. Find out more.

For more information: Call the Age Scotland helpline: 0800 12 44 222