Today the Fair Funerals campaign challenges the funeral industry to be open and transparent about their prices, calling on them to make prices available online.
Their new enhanced ‘Fair Funerals pledge’ responds to the fact that most funeral directors do not put their prices on their websites. Research found that of 300 funeral director branches from across the UK, 93% did not have any prices online.
This lack of openness makes it difficult for people without much money to shop around and find a funeral within their budget.
Funeral costs are rising sharply. In 2014 the cost of dying rose seven times faster than the cost of living. There are very large differences between what funeral directors charge, but without being able to check prices before speaking to a funeral director, many people don’t realise this and end up spending more than they can afford, which often leads to crippling debts.
UK's biggest funeral provider signs
In light of this, Fair Funerals today announce that Co-op Funeralcare, the UK’s leading funeral provider, are the first funeral director to sign up to this new Fair Funerals pledge improving the way prices are displayed on their website.
The extended Fair Funerals pledge is a step up from the existing pledge and asks that funeral directors help people to find funerals within their budget by displaying the full price of affordable options online, including third party costs. The first version of the pledge was launched in June 2015 and attracted 560 signatories - around 15% of the funeral industry. Today’s announcement means that the total number of funeral directors signed up to tackle funeral poverty now accounts for just over a third of the industry (over 1,500 funeral homes nationwide.)
Funeral poverty has increased by 50% in three years. Research from Royal London reveals the cost of an average, basic funeral in the UK has increased from £3,562 to £3,702 last year.
Heather Kennedy, Fair Funerals Campaign Manager said:
“When we’re grieving, talking about money is often the last thing we want to do, and calling around different funeral directors to compare costs can seem really daunting. So it’s absolutely essential that funeral directors put prices on their websites. Unfortunately most funeral directors don’t do this."
"We’re delighted Co-op Funeralcare, as the UK’s biggest provider of funerals, have signed up to our enhanced pledge and put prices on their websites. Shopping around funeral directors is really important, especially for people worried about money, because there are such big differences in what they charge. Today’s announcement will make it easier for people to shop around and find a funeral they can afford."
"Even though most funeral directors don’t put their prices online, this is starting to change. A lot of companies are recognising the value to grieving people of online price transparency and are getting ahead of the curve. If people notice their local funeral director doesn’t have prices on their website, we encourage them to ask why.”
Greg Patton, who was supported by Down to Earth, said:
“When my dad died very suddenly I was in a real state. I had no idea how I was going to pay for the funeral. I knew the names of a couple of local funeral directors, but when I went on their websites to see what kind of money we’d be talking about, there was nothing on there about cost. I was totally in the dark. I got some help from Down to Earth and eventually found a funeral director who was open about prices. But most people are on their own. I could easily have ended up spending a lot more about getting into even more debt.”
Richard Lancaster, Managing Director for Co-op Funeralcare said:
“At the Co-op, we are committed to a better way of doing business. Funeral poverty is a growing issue and we are focused on taking action to play our part in helping to tackle this. The measures we have announced today are a further step on this journey.”
“Being the first business to sign Fair Funerals new enhanced pledge highlights our long term intentions. Against an industry backdrop of rising funeral costs, we want to ensure that quality funerals remain both an accessible and affordable option.”
* Fair Funerals looked at over 300 funeral homes across the UK in mystery shopping which checked for affordability and transparency. At the time of conducting the mystery shopping, 93% of the funeral directors we mystery shopped did not have any prices online.