New pricing rules for Funeral Directors

Clearer pricing investigation should cut funeral costs, says Paul Lewis

African descent grandmother and grandchild gardening in outdoor vegetable garden in spring or summer season. Cute little boy enjoys planting new flowers and vegetable plants.

People organising a funeral for a loved one are at risk of being exploited at one of the most emotional and stressful times in their lives, says the Competition and Markets Authority. But the CMA has been investigating the costs involved since 2018, and has now given funeral firms until 16 September to publish their charges clearly and in a standard format.

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Under the new rules, funeral directors must publish a price list on their premises and on their website in a standardised form. It must include the headline price of a standard funeral showing what is included and how much each element costs. It must also set out clearly the cost of any items that will be charged as extras.

Crematorium operators must also set out clearly their charges both to funeral firms and to the public. The CMA says that currently it’s difficult for customers – who are often in a vulnerable state – to make comparisons between different companies’ costs because firms may use different names for the elements of a funeral and may not make clear what is and what is not included in the basic price.

The CMA hopes that, using the new clarity of information, customers could save hundreds of pounds off a bill, which is typically around  £4,000.  The CMA also banned funeral firms from making payments to hospices or care homes that recommend them. Furthermore, it prohibited them from soliciting for business through contacts in the police or coroner’s office. Those rules came into force on 17 June.

The CMA will be monitoring prices charged by funeral firms and warns that if they do not conform to the new rules – which have the force of law – they will be taken to court.

For more information, search gov.uk for “CMA clearer funeral prices”. And do use the new rules to your advantage: make sure you visit two or three funeral firms and do some research on the internet before deciding, as you would with any other major purchase. Never feel obliged to take the first offer.

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Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4.