With the average cost of a funeral varying from family to family it is those with the least amount that bear the greater burden of costs on the death of a loved one. In 2017 there were 607,000 deaths across the UK and of these only 94,000 had considered purchasing a prepaid funeral plan to relieve the financial burden of funeral costs at death.
In some circumstances an average funeral can cost up to 40% of the annual income of a low income household. It is thought that the average cost of a funeral is now in the region of £4,300 with a potential further £2,000 being spent on flowers and life celebrations.
The Competition and Markets Authority and HM Revenue & Customs are separately reviewing the funeral industry because of the rising costs of burials and cremations and associated costs and the vulnerability of individuals at the time these purchases are necessary. This is no formal regulatory body overseeing the funeral industry which can step in to impose rules and procedures so perhaps a review is overdue.
The review which started in Autumn 2018 is looking into whether information provided on funeral prices and services are sufficiently transparent for customers to make appropriate choices, increases in year on year prices and factors affecting costs incurred by funeral directors.
What is surprising however is from initial research conducted on behalf of the Competition and Markets Authority knowledge among the general population on how to arrange a funeral is vague, the exact prices involved with a funeral are not scrutinised by customers and that is was not thought appropriate to negotiate the cost of a funeral. What is pleasing however is that quality service from funeral directors is considered in terms of going "above and beyond" to provide support to families at difficult times and giving their family member a meaningful farewell.
Initial findings were provided in a 133 page report in November 2018. These indicated that the review had uncovered difficulties within the market. Following the initial review the public has been consulted and further reports are due later this year.
To view the initial Competition and Markets Authority report please click https://tinyurl.com/yb5hx4k2
As soon as we hear further news in relation to this review we will, of course, update you.
In the meantime make sure you do your research to find an excellent funeral director who will meet your requirements and standards and also check what you are being charged for!!