The Competition and Markets Authority has called for a major probe into the rising cost of funerals that leaves bereaved people at risk of being exploited.
The CMA, which looks to protect consumers in the UK, revealed that the price of the essential elements of a funeral has increased by more than two-thirds over 10 years – well above the rate of inflation.
In its interim report, released on 29th November, the CMA says that smaller, local Funeral Directors have tried to keep prices low, but “larger chains” are driving up prices with “policies of consistently high year-on-year prices increases.”
Bereaved people left vulnerable in time of need
Families are “extremely vulnerable to exploitation”, says the watchdog, as they are often unable to shop around, “making it easier for some Funeral Directors to charge higher prices”.
“People mourning the loss of a loved one are extremely vulnerable and at risk of being exploited. We need to make sure that they are protected at such an emotional time,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.
“We now feel that the full powers of a market investigation are required to address the issues we have found.”
Funeral debt hits all-time high
Increased funeral costs have led to a record number of Brits borrowing money to pay for a loved one’s send-off. And some families have even had to leave loved ones in mortuaries for months until they could pay for a funeral.
A Freedom of Information request by ITV News discovered that over a quarter of hospital trusts in England have had to hold loved ones for three months or more.
Talking to ITV News, Curtis Colt described how his grandfather was held for five months, as he could not afford a burial. “There are no words to describe it,” he said, “You can’t sleep at night, you can’t eat – all you’re thinking about is the funeral.”
How to avoid rising funeral costs
In its report, the CMA highlighted the importance of shopping around before choosing a Funeral Director, saying that bereaved people could save more than £1,000 by comparing options. However, shopping around can be challenging when individuals are “usually distressed and often not in a position to do this.”
“Organising and managing the funeral of a loved one is a time of huge emotional vulnerability, which leaves consumers susceptible to exploitation,” said Colette Porter, marketing director at Avalon Funeral Plans. “Some consumers understandably find it difficult to scrutinise the information they are being quoted when left with the responsibility of arranging a funeral at the time of need and are not in the frame of mind to shop around.”
That’s why a funeral plan is an essential part of planning for the future. By purchasing a plan, you can fix Funeral Director costs at today’s prices and choose how you want to be remembered.
Avalon’s funeral plans come with a disbursements allowance that increases every year in line with the Consumer Price Index, future-proofing your plan against inflation and ensuring your loved ones are left with wonderful memories, not financial worries.
About the author
With a Masters from the University of Bristol, Jessica Hanson has worked in the funeral sector for several years, following the latest industry trends and writing about end of life planning. Jessica has previously written as a blogger for the Huffington Post, covering topics such as death positivity, understanding grief and how funerals are changing. You can find Jessica on LinkedIn and Twitter.