Poor people are too poor to die - they can't afford the high funeral costs, a report has revealed.
The study by researchers at University of Bath's Institute for Policy Research reveals that the average cost of dying - including funeral, burial or cremation and state administration - has risen 7.1 per cent over the past year in the UK to STG7,622 ($A14,305).
The researchers estimate that more than 100,000 people will struggle to pay for a funeral this year alone and have called on the government to review the current system of state support for funeral costs.
In spite of the lowest-ever recorded mortality rates for England and Wales, the cost of dying has steadily increased over recent years.
The average cost of a funeral rose 80 per cent between 2004 and 2013, and the costs of dying are expected to continue to rise over the next five years.
On average, the price of a typical funeral, including non-discretionary fees and a burial or cremation, is STG3,456.
The average amount spent on extras such as a memorial, flowers and catering is STG2,006 and discretionary estate administration costs have increased significantly to STG2,160.
The Social Fund Funeral Payment was introduced in 1988 to help families on low incomes who struggle to find the money to pay for a funeral.
But, the report challenges the scheme's effectiveness and availability. It says many face an average shortfall of STG1,277 and suggests that 'funeral poverty' today is some 50 per cent higher than it was three years ago.
It urges the government to rethink the Department for Work and Pensions-administered payment, describing it 'outdated', 'overly complex' and 'insufficient' at meeting the needs of the poorest in society.
It also found that local authorities had experienced a small but notable increase in demand for public health funerals, on the grounds that individuals are not prepared to organise or pay for the funeral of a family member.
Through interviews with claimants and key stakeholders, the researchers identified flaws with the current system, including how eligible claimants are obliged to commit to funeral costs before submitting their claim for funeral payment.
By doing this, they are making poorly informed financial decisions which risks debt for close family members.
Dr Kate Woodthorpe, from the university's Centre for Death and Society, said: "Medical advancement has made significant improvements to death rates.
"As a result people, are living longer, which requires larger incomes and pension pots to ensure these extra years can be afforded. Whether or not these will stretch to cover funeral costs is unclear.
"At the same time, the younger generations have less ready cash to call on, so they cannot necessarily be relied on to pick up the bill either.
"We know that the long-term decline in death rates is about to reverse, with a projected rise in the number of deaths around 15 to 20 per cent in the next two decades.
"We also know that right now, with some of the lowest death rates ever recorded, the safety nets provided by the state via the Social Fund Funeral Payment and local authority public health funerals are under pressure.
"Their sustainability into the future is debatable."
The report, Funeral poverty in the UK: issues for policy, was co-organised and hosted by the International Longevity Centre-UK.