SIMPLE • DIGNIFIED • CARING
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We are campaigners fighting for more support for bereaved families, fairer funerals and ending poverty. In our blog we discuss issues and themes related to dignity, emotional support and affordablity in funerals.

 

A welcome step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to banish funeral poverty.

The Competitions Market Authority announced new orders for the funeral industry on 16th June 2021*.

The Order requires that, from 16 September 2021, all funeral directors must display a Standardised Price List at their premises and on their website. This list must include:

• The headline price of a funeral.
• The price of the individual items comprising the funeral.
• The price of certain additional products and services.

In addition, from 17 June 2021, funeral directors may not:
• Make payments to incentivise hospitals, palliative care services, hospices, care homes or similar institutions to refer customers to a particular funeral director.
• Solicit for business through coroner and police contracts.

Crematorium operators will also be required to provide specified price information to funeral directors and customers.

We have been campaigning for transparent pricing since 2018, so this is a welcome development. Sadly, we have heard first-hand cases of people who have been upsold unnecessary items by a minority of profit-making funeral directors. As a consequence, the bereaved are left with a funeral cost they can’t afford to pay.

Once these orders are enforced, those struggling to afford a funeral will see more clearly what an essential and non-essential cost is, and therefore make a more informed decision on what they need to spend.

However the CMA order does not include the following:

• A requirement to list cost of grave itself.
• Details of products and services of what is included in an unattended funeral.
• Children’s prices included in core price list.

We hope these will be included in the CMA’s final recommendation.

What else need to be done?

We all have our part to play in eradicating funeral poverty.
This year, the cost of a basic funeral has gone up to £4,184** – the highest it has ever been*.

So what else can be done?

Consumer behaviour

Most people do not “shop around” and accept the first quote they are given. This is quite understandable considering the distressed state of most bereaved families. However, by even looking at a few different funeral directors, people from low-income families could save themselves a considerable amount of money.

Lack of familiarity with the industry.

Most people only organise a very small number of funerals in their life – which means they lack in-depth knowledge of the industry and type of funerals available. As a result, the majority of funerals in 2021 were either burial or cremation.

However, there is another option – direct cremation. This is a cremation with no mourners present. It has been described as a modern alternative and it provides families more time to prepare a send-off which is more personal to them and their loved one. It is also considerably cheaper than your standard funerals. As one bereaved person stated:

“I am glad I chose to have a direct cremation because our memories now are of him alive, and we have no sad memories of a funeral.”**

However only 59% of people are aware of direct cremations.** Whilst direct cremation wouldn’t be the choice of everyone, we feel if more people were aware of this option, then they may feel empowered to choose it and could potentially avoid taking on a funeral debt they just can’t afford to pay back.

Perceived social pressure.

Some may think that they must go down the traditional funeral route to give their loved one a “proper send-off”. It has been calculated that the average cost of dying – which includes send-off costs, then goes up to £9,263!

But there are several ways to remember someone that don’t involve spending a huge amount of money.

Joe chose a direct cremation for his mother, as it fit with her values, and he organised a really personal event with friends and family afterwards. You can hear Joe’s story here 

So, lets start talking to each other about end-of-life plans. Let us share stories and knowledge and empower each other to make the choice that is right for us and our recently departed.
After all, when has money been the measure of how much you love someone?

 

*To read the full recommendations – click here

**The Sunlife Cost of Dying 2021 Report

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