A number of funeral firms have welcomed the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and HM Treasury’s investigation into the sector, after it was revealed that the two government bodies would be separately looking at funeral pricing and plans.
The CMA will be investigating how the prices of funerals have changed over time, looking at factors which have affected it. HM Treasury has launched a Call for Evidence with regard to pre-paid funeral plans, focusing on whether clients were given clear information before being offered certain plans.
Life insurer Royal London’s funeral expert Louise Eaton-Terry said: “With the cost of funerals rising above inflation, a funeral plan allows consumers to secure their funeral at today’s prices. Consumer protection in the funeral plan market needs to be improved, which is why we are calling for statutory regulation to be introduced and welcome a review of the market.
“The CMA’s review into the funeral sector is a welcome move. Our research shows that while many funeral directors actively make customers aware of the range of options available to them, there is bad practice in the industry with consumers not always being made aware of lower cost alternatives. Details of funeral services and prices should be clear and easily accessible, so customers can choose the best option for them.”
Central England Co-operative Funeralcare also welcomed the announcement, reiterating that customers and members never have to pay for more than the services chosen.
Kevin Crute, head of Funeralcare at Central England Co-operative, said: “As a funeral care provider, we are confident about the open and clear way in which we provide and showcase information in relation to the cost of funerals and our fully guaranteed funeral plans.
“Our full and clear price lists are published in every Funeral Home and our funeral plans are fully guaranteed – this means that loved ones will not be hit with unexpected bills at what is already a very difficult time.”
He added: “We applaud any effort launched to help families in their time of need and ensure they get the highest standard of funeral care at all times.”
Dignity, which has led calls for greater regulation of both at need and pre-paid funeral sectors, said it looked “forward to working with the Treasury and the CMA in the months ahead to bring greater regulation and transparency to the funeral sector.”
Mike McCollum, chief executive of Dignity, said: “We are focused on delivering excellent service to our clients in whatever way suits their personal needs and welcome today’s announcements from the Treasury and CMA. As part of our support for these reviews, we expect to share the work we have already collated to support the calls for regulation we have been making for some time.”