The pledge has been relaunched by the charity Quaker Social Action amid ongoing concerns at the scale of price rises and the behaviour of some funeral directors in the sector, with the Competition and Markets Authority currently conducting a “full-scale inquiry.”
Upon the launch of the investigation last year, the CMA accused some funeral directors of “taking advantage” by charging high prices at a time when customers were vulnerable.
It said the reluctance of firms to disclose clear prices, including online, and to provide comprehensive information on the quality and range of services made it hard for people to compare funeral directors. The CMA has since reported that half the funeral director websites they audited did not contain price information.
Quaker Social Action, which provides the only UK-wide helpline for people struggling with funeral costs, has relaunched the Fair Funerals” pledge to encourage funeral directors to address the national funeral poverty crisis from within the industry itself.
The average cost of a funeral in the UK has soared in recent years leaving many families thousands of pounds in debt. According to Royal London, the average cost of a simple funeral now stands at £3,785.
Last year, the CMA stated that the essential elements of organising a funeral have increased by 6% each year – twice the inflation rate – for the last 14 years.
The relaunched Fair Funerals pledge provides customers with an online tool to check whether their local funeral director is committed to helping them find a funeral within their means, ensuring they are open about the price of their services, including any third party costs, any deposit required and when the final balance is due.
Lindesay Mace, manager of QSA’s funeral poverty service Down to Earth, said: “Last year Royal London reported that the average debt taken on by those who struggle with funeral costs had increased by 14% since 2018.
“We frequently support clients who are confused and unclear about quotes they have been given; what costs are for, whether third party fees are included or simply what the total will be, having been told they will only get something in writing after the funeral.
She added: “Clearly much more needs to be done and so the Fair Funerals pledge is continuing its activity as part of Quaker Social Action’s Down to Earth service.”
Catherine Powell, co-founder of Pure Cremation which has signed up to the 2020 pledge, said: “Every bereaved family deserves expert help to create a satisfying farewell within their budget. The Fair Funeral Pledge recognises firms that already do this and sets a standard for all funeral businesses to follow.”