Funerals are always a difficult time, no matter what the circumstances. Covid-19, however, has made the experience even more stressful; emotionally, financially, and in terms of making all the arrangements. With ongoing lockdown restrictions, these complications are set to continue.
There are also growing concerns that some funeral providers are making the situation worse. Increased prices, unclear communication, and even misleading statements to clients have all been reported but rarely resolved as funeral directors are unregulated in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Last year, we published an article on the findings of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) following their continued investigations into the sector which began in May 2018. The organisation has now presented their results, which include ‘serious concerns’ regarding funeral costs.
In 2020, the financial services company Sunlife revealed that the average cost of a funeral that year had risen to £4,417, increasing by a startling 62% over the course of the previous ten years. Based on inflation, the company estimated that funerals could cost around £5,285 by 2024.
The latest CMA findings concurred with the report, with many funeral providers reportedly hiking up costs or withholding the final figures from clients. Despite this, the organisation has decided against pricing controls until further data can be gathered during more “stable conditions”.
Meanwhile, the CMA have introduced some new rules to help give peace of mind when it comes to arranging a funeral. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, funeral directors are being asked to use clear pricing so that clients can “make more informed decisions”.
Secondly, customers should be told about the full costs, including any requirement for deposits. Thirdly, clients must be made aware of any additional commercial interests. Finally, certain practices (including making payments to care homes and hospitals so that they recommend certain funeral directors) will be forbidden.
While may people will understandably remain concerned about the lack of regulation for funeral directors, there is plenty of information and advice available from independent bodies online and on the phone. You can also talk to us, and we will be happy to offer support.
We have been supplying tailored paid-in-advance funeral plans for some years and can work closely with clients to ensure that their wishes are met. With ongoing concerns regarding Covid-19 as well as the rising costs within the funeral sector, pre-paid funeral plans continue to be a popular choice.
The main benefit of a pre-paid plan is that the cost of your funeral is based on today’s prices, so you and your family don’t have to worry about future increases. We work with Golden Leaves who have over 30 years of experience in the sector and are registered with the Funeral Planning Authority and the National Association of Funeral Plan Providers.