We’ve had a lot of correspondence here at the GFG since Dispatches flung that stuff about Co-operative Funeralcare in our eye (5 mins of telly souffléd into half an hour with a dollop of unleavened ombudsman).
It’s been complaints, mostly, and of course I can’t go into detail about any of them. But almost all of them illustrate systemic problems in the funeral industry.
One of those problem areas is the conduct of funeral directors who hold a local authority contract for coroners’ removals.
The specific problem here is the way these contracts work. They are often awarded to a funeral director who pitches below the viable commercial rate for the job. The protocol that contracted funeral directors must observe, often, is that they must not solicit for business but they may leave a business card with the family.
Which looks a bit like soliciting for business, yes?
More important, how do councils suppose that undertakers carrying out removals at a loss are going to make it pay? Isn’t there only one way they can make it pay?
How much oversight is there? Do procurement officers ever get out to check up on their contracted undertakers?
Does a failure to find out how contracted undertakers make it pay amount to tacit collusion in questionable practice? We’re not suggesting that council officers are getting backhanders.
How could an undertaker who keeps to the rules hope to win one of these contracts, and why would she want to?
We don’t know the answers to any of these questions, nor do we want to jump to conclusions before getting all the facts. We rely on you to fill us in, if you would be so kind.
What’s it all about?