Latest investigation follows warning to funeral directors and crematorium directors to make prices clear for customers or risk court action.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been monitoring the funeral market after it accused some funeral directors of taking advantage of vulnerable customers by charging high prices.
The CMA changed the law in 2021 to improve the transparency of funeral costs after it found prices had increased 6% – twice the rate of inflation – for many years.
The cost of a funeral was just over £2,700 between 1 September 2022 and 31 August 2023. This was 4% higher than the previous year but represents a decrease in real terms compared to the higher rates of inflation.
The findings are based on the average costs following submissions from funeral directors operating more than five branches.
Adam Land, senior director of remedies at the CMA, said:
‘It’s good news that these rules have continued to keep costs lower than they would have been without CMA action.
‘There is still a minority of funeral and crematorium directors that are failing to comply with the law. They should be under no illusion – we will continue to enforce the rules and anyone breaching them can expect a call from the CMA.’
The CMA has said it is too soon to say whether consumers are getting a better deal overall. It will continue to monitor the sector closely and take enforcement action where firms fail to comply with the Order.
Watchdog sends warning to funeral directors who are breaching the law
Just under 250 funeral directors (representing 10% of all firms) are failing to comply with the law, the CMA said.
It received complaints that suggest many are not displaying the right pricing information for funeral or crematorium services online and in their branches.
These funeral directors have been reminded of their responsibilities. The CMA said it ‘will escalate its enforcement action should a funeral director continue to breach the law.’
Unattended funeral costs under scrutiny
The CMA is concerned about the average cost of unattended funerals. The cost of these cheaper funerals ‘appears to have risen faster than the rate of inflation,’ the CMA said. Revenues are up 12% in 2023.
Having no ceremony or mourners in attendance is an increasingly popular choice of funeral – rising to 11% in 2023, up from 8% in 2022, the CMA said.
What to expect when arranging a funeral
In 2021, the CMA ordered funeral directors and crematorium operators to:
- make prices clearer to help customers make more informed decisions.
- provide information in advance so customers know what they will pay and whether there are requirements for a deposit or similar.
- inform customers about a funeral director’s other commercial interests.
Citizens Advice provides information on arranging a funeral and what to expect from a funeral director.
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