Funeral profession changes after pandemic
Now that we are at the other end of the pandemic that touched so many lives, the funeral profession has started to undergo some radical changes, writes Norwich Christian director Kevin Cobbold.
The reason I started my own company was that I felt that people were being taken advantage of at a time when they were most vulnerable and unable to protect themselves. This was anathema to my Christian faith.
I am heartened by two new great levels of protection that have come into being – greater transparency is now a legal requirement thanks to the Competition and Markets Authority and there is protection from overcharging funeral plan providers thanks to the Financial Conduct Authority. Another change is the greater demand for non-attendance ‘direct cremations’. As always, let the buyer beware and choose wisely.
Throughout my time in the funeral industry, I have been deeply concerned about the overcharging that has been carried out by some funeral directors. Two very similar funerals might cost £5,000 with one funeral director and £2,500 with another. As people are grieving, many do not have the emotional energy required to challenge this greed.
We are delighted that the Competition and Markets Authority has decided, quite rightly, that prices for similar services differed too much 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.
As a result of the CMA’s investigation, all funeral directors must now 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, 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.
Another big recent change has been that all funeral plan companies, and the people who sell the plans on their behalf, must be approved by the Financial Conduct Authority. Strict criteria must be met and, as a result, some funeral plan providers are ceasing operation, with one, ‘Safe Hands’, having gone into administration. From the end of July 2022 onwards, people buying funeral plans will be far better protected.
You might have heard that many people are choosing to have a direct cremation for their funeral, with no attendance or service. Daytime television is swamped with advertising by companies who offer what is essentially a direct cremation without a service, any viewings or attendance by any family members.
A direct cremation is, in fact, offered by any funeral director and it does not have to be booked through the TV-marketed companies. What the public is not told, is that such direct cremations are often done at a remote site, reached by a circuitous route where other deceased people are collected on the way. There are also extra charges if someone dies anywhere other than in a hospital.
If you do want a direct cremation, you would be well advised to use a local funeral director who uses a local crematorium. The price will also be more reasonable with a local funeral director and viewings are allowed by many, including us.
Read more about Kevin Cobbold Funeral Services on this website.
You can contact Kevin Cobbold Funeral Services on 01603 528800 or 07789 586817, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their offices at 109 Cromer Road, Norwich, NR6 6XW.