Last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) completed its in-depth market investigation into the funerals sector. This identified a number of concerns, including that prices for similar services differed considerably between funeral directors and the way that information was provided made it hard for families to compare prices and choose the right combination of services for their loved ones.
The CMA therefore decided to implement a package of ‘sunlight remedies’, which it has been consulting on with the sector, including funeral providers, trade bodies, charities and customer representative groups.
Many of these remedies have now been made into law through an Order. In addition, further remedies concerning the regulation of funeral directors have been recommended to the government.
The Order requires that, from 16 September 2021, all funeral directors must display a Standardised Price List at their premises and on their website. This list must include:
- The headline price of a funeral.
- The price of the individual items comprising the funeral.
- The price of certain additional products and services.
In addition, from 17 June 2021, funeral directors may not:
- Make payments to incentivise hospitals, palliative care services, hospices, care homes or similar institutions to refer customers to a particular funeral director.
- Solicit for business through coroner and police contracts.
Crematorium operators will also be required to provide specified price information to funeral directors and customers.
The CMA expects all funeral directors and crematorium operators to take action to ensure the changes are implemented by the legal deadlines.
Martin Coleman, CMA Panel Inquiry Chair, said:
“Organising a funeral is one of the hardest things that anyone must do, and it is vital that people are treated fairly. Customers need clear information so that they know what they will be charged and are able, if they wish, to compare the prices of different providers.
“As a result of CMA action, funeral providers must ensure that prices and services on offer are clear upfront, so that people can more easily make the choices that are right for them. We urge funeral directors and crematorium operators to start making these changes now. We will be keeping a close eye on the sector and stand ready to take action if firms don’t follow the rules.”