Call to ‘shop around for funeral’ as sector faces major shake-up

Investigation: The Competition & Markets Authority confirmed it would be launching a full-blown probe into the funerals industry


Call for the bereaved to ‘shop around for funeral’ as multi-million pound industry faces major shake-up

  • There are concerns funerals’ cost is rising at three times the rate of inflation
  • The CMA confirmed it would be launching a full-blown probe in the sector
  • 84% average increase in fees imposed by crematoria over the past ten years

Jeff Prestridge, Financial Mail on Sunday

Shopping around for a funeral is anathema to many people who lose loved ones or close relatives. But such inertia – understandable though it may be – is allowing some funeral directors to get away with sky-high prices.

Last week, the Competition & Markets Authority confirmed it would be launching a full-blown probe into the multi-million pound funerals industry, amid concerns that the cost is rising at three times the rate of inflation.

It pointed an accusing finger at the large funeral chains for adopting policies of ‘consistently high year-on-year price increases’. It also highlighted the 84 per cent average increase in fees imposed by crematoria over the past ten years.

Investigation: The Competition & Markets Authority confirmed it would be launching a full-blown probe into the funerals industry

Investigation: The Competition & Markets Authority confirmed it would be launching a full-blown probe into the funerals industry

The regulator said that families could save more than £1,000 by comparing prices charged by local funeral directors.

But currently no more than four per cent do, instead opting simply for the nearest. Comparing prices is made more difficult by the fact that many directors do not publish their prices online.

Website Beyond is alone in allowing families to shop around comprehensively for the best priced funerals.

It has price details of more than 1,200 directors on the site including those from the large chains, together with reviews from customers. It also allows people to compare the price of ‘pre-paid’ funeral plans, popular with those who want to make their own arrangements.

People can compare and contrast on various criteria – including the distance from home of the director’s premises, quality of customer reviews and price. 

A comparison of prices currently charged for near-identical funeral services in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, shows a breathtaking range in overall costs – from just over £2,300 to more than £5,000.

Lee Solomon, co-owner of Lilies, based in Sutton Coldfield, says: ‘We had a family come to see us last year after they had got a quote from one of the big chains. We were able to offer an identical package for £1,800 less. The market is imperfect.’ Its price on Beyond’s website is £2,798.

Ian Strang is co-founder of Beyond. He believes ‘powerful vested interests’ are preventing price transparency in the funerals market and inhibiting competition.

He says: ‘We need better value in the market and break down this societal barrier that stops people shopping around for a funeral.’

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