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Bereaved to receive funeral prices in advance of committing to service

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18/12/2020
‘Serious concerns’ about the funeral sector mean the watchdog has set out remedies to help the bereaved, including the requirement for providers to disclose prices upfront.

An investigation of the funerals market revealed “serious concerns”, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

As a result, it’s set out a number of remedies for the sector to help bereaved families at a naturally distressing time when choosing a funeral director or crematorium.

These include:

• All funeral directors and crematorium operators to disclose prices to help customers make more informed decisions
• Information must be provided in advance of a customer committing to purchase funeral services so that they know the price they will be charged and the key terms of business – for example if a deposit is required;
• Customers should be made aware of any relevant business, financial and commercial interests of the funeral director, and certain practices, such as payments which may incentivise hospitals, care homes or hospices to refer customers to a particular funeral director – will be prohibited;
• Recommendation to government to establish an independent inspection and registration regime to monitor the quality of funeral director services.

They come after the CMA launched an investigation into the funerals sector in March 2019 and published its provisional findings in August.

At the time, it noted that the exceptional circumstances surround the coronavirus pandemic meant that some of the remedies it might otherwise have pursued, such as price caps, couldn’t be developed.

But it is considering whether a full market investigation is needed “when conditions are more stable”.

In the meantime, it will monitor the sector to ensure the bereaved are being fairly treated.

Martin Coleman, CMA panel inquiry chair, said: “Organising a funeral is often very distressing and people can be especially vulnerable during this time.

“That’s why our remedies are designed to help people make choices that are right for them and ensure they can be confident that their loved one is in good hands.

“The CMA will be keeping a close eye on this sector to make sure our remedies are properly implemented and help it to decide whether further action is necessary when circumstances return to a more steady state.”

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