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Competition authority to tackle funeral market

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28/03/2019
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an in-depth investigation into the funerals sector, focusing on funeral director and crematorium services.

The CMA said it was concerned about the rising cost of funerals, which has increased by 6% each year – twice the inflation rate – for the last 14 years. Funerals typically cost several thousand pounds. It is also worried about the lack of choice, compounded by the vulnerability of many people when organising a funeral. It is concerned that some funeral directors have exploited this to charge high prices.

There has also been reluctance by firms to publish and disclose their pricing structure, including online, or to provide comprehensive information on quality and range, making it difficult for people to compare funeral directors. Often, there will be limited choice of crematoria providers in a local area, which leads to high prices – the largest private operators have implemented average price rises of between 6% and 8% each year for the past 8 years and some local authorities have also implemented large increases in fees.

The CMA said the investigation would examine the competition concerns identified and decide what action, if any, is appropriate.

Louise Eaton-Terry, funeral cost expert at Royal London, said: “High funeral costs have forced thousands of grieving families into debt so a market investigation into the funeral industry is long overdue and welcome. The costs of arranging a funeral are opaque and we have been calling for the industry to make their pricing clear and transparent to ensure those arranging a funeral fully understand the options available.”

 

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