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CMA report identifies issues in the funeral service sector

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has identified a “number” of issues in the funeral services sector and has suggested a package of ‘sunlight remedies’ to address these.

Its final report into the sector has set out further detail on the remedies, which are intended to support customers when choosing a funeral director or crematorium, as well as place the sector under greater public scrutiny.

The report has suggested an obligation for all funeral directors and crematorium operators to disclose prices in a “manner that will help customers make more informed decisions”.

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Additionally, the CMA said that information must be provided in advance of a customer committing to purchase a service so that people know the price they will be charged and the key terms of business, for example if a deposit is required.

The report also revealed that customers should be made aware of any relevant business, financial and commercial interests of the funeral director, and that certain practices, such as payments which may incentivise hospitals, care homes or hospices to refer customers to a particular funeral director will be prohibited.

The CMA has also recommended that the government establish an independent inspection and registration regime to monitor the quality of funeral director services as a first step in the establishment of a broader regulatory regime for funeral services.

However, the CMA added that it has continued to have “serious concerns” about the sector, and one of the conclusions of the report was that it should consider whether a further market investigation reference is needed when conditions are more stable.

In the meantime, the CMA said it will continue to “monitor the sector”, using information provided by funeral directors and crematoria detailing their revenues and the volumes of the different services they provide.

Martin Coleman, inquiry chair for the CMA Panel, said: “Organising a funeral is often very distressing and people can be especially vulnerable during this time. That’s why our remedies are designed to help people make choices that are right for them and ensure they can be confident that their loved one is in good hands.

“The CMA will be keeping a close eye on this sector to make sure our remedies are properly implemented and help it to decide whether further action is necessary when circumstances return to a more steady state.”

 

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