The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its interim report into the funeral sector, investigating why funeral costs have risen above inflation for over a decade.

The report found that the price of the essential elements of a funeral has increased by more than two-thirds over the last 10 years, at almost three times the rate of inflation. For low-income families, the price of a funeral could represent as much as 40% of their annual outgoings, according to the CMA.

The CMA found that customers could save money by shopping around for a funeral – but people arranging a funeral are often too distressed to compare different providers.

The report also says that while smaller Funeral Directors try to keep prices low, some larger chains have raised their prices year on year, above the rate of inflation.

Colette Porter, Marketing Director at Avalon Funeral Plans, commented:

“We welcome the CMA’s proposed investigation into the funeral market. It’s undeniable that funeral prices are rising at a disproportionately high rate compared to inflation, earnings growth and the rate of pensions. It is also evident from the CMA’s study that these price rises are driven by some of the larger Funeral Directors and privately owned crematoria chains.

“Avalon provides a range of pre-paid funeral plans, which protect people from these rising costs by allowing them to plan and tailor the funeral they want – at today’s prices. We are proud to help people to save money, plan for later life and avoid placing an undue burden on their loved ones after their death.

“Organising and managing the funeral of a loved one is a time of huge emotional vulnerability, which leaves consumers susceptible to exploitation. 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. We agree with the CMA’s assessment that profit margins and policies implemented by larger Funeral Director chains are the primary cause of consistently high, year-on-year price increases. A full investigation is necessary to ensure consumers are protected and being given the appropriate information.

“The CMA’s findings that larger Funeral Directors prices are well above that of small, independent Funeral Directors supports our own experience that the independent Funeral Directors provide good value. We work closely with over 1,600 independent providers, who strive to deliver a high quality and affordable service for their local communities at a reasonable cost. We urge the CMA to avoid placing undue burden on smaller independent Funeral Directors during their investigation, and instead focus on larger chains who operate more sophisticated pricing models and are the main drivers of increasing costs across the sector.”

You can read more from the interim report online, or find out more about Avalon Funeral Plans.