Following its in-depth market investigation, the CMA ordered the funerals sector to take steps to make it easier for families to arrange a funeral that meets their needs and budget.
On 17 June 2021, the first of these steps were written into law, including banning funeral directors from incentivising certain institutions such as hospitals or care homes to refer customers to them.
All funeral firms had three months to implement the changes with funeral directors now legally required to display a Standardised Price List in their window at their premises and on their website.
This list includes the headline price of a funeral, the price of the individual items comprising the funeral and the price of certain additional products and services.
Crematorium operators will also be required to provide specified price information to funeral directors and customers, displayed in the same places.
The CMA’s recent investigation identified a number of concerns, including that prices for similar services “differed considerably” between funeral directors and the way that information was provided “made it hard” for families to compare prices and choose the right combination of services.
Martin Coleman, CMA panel inquiry chair, said: “Arranging a funeral is a very difficult and often unfamiliar process, which can mean the price is the last thing on our minds. These changes will make it easier for grieving families to compare costs and choose the right service for their loved one.
“We gave funeral directors and crematorium operators 3 months to implement these changes and this legal deadline must be honoured. We stand ready to take action – including naming providers – if they fail to follow the rules. The final cost of a funeral should never come as a surprise.”
Jon Levett, chief executive, National Association of Funerals Directors, added: “Although many funeral firms have published prices online for a long time now, the new requirements which come in today makes sure that all funeral homes display information in a format, which brings greater consistency to the process of choosing a funeral director.
“There are some real issues over how inclusive, flexible and clear the new requirements will be for bereaved people – and we have fed this back to the government, urging the CMA to refine the rules, to ensure they assist bereaved people in making informed choices, and promote healthy competition in the funeral sector.”