Sharp rise in Pauper’s funerals

Charles Cowling

 
Posted by Vale

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Oliver Twist is in a workhouse somewhere asking for more. It seems extraordinary in 2012 that there are headlines like this in the Daily Telegraph this week, followed by the stark (and slightly ludicrous) quote from Kate Woodthorpe of the University of Bath that it is:

“becoming too expensive for poor people to die”.

The article is based on a joint report between the university and Sun Life Direct and notes that the number of applications rejected for a funeral payment increased by 6.9% and is likely to jump again in the future. Put bluntly funerals are becoming unaffordable for more and more people.

There are issues with the report of course. Sun Life’s interest in shepherding people towards its end of life plans is one. It also includes a great deal of information that deserves more detailed consideration. For the moment though our concern here at GFG has a narrower focus. Let’s go back to the news that, in an age where benefits claimants are routinely stigmatised and welfare support is harder to access, state support for the costs of funerals is shrinking; that the funeral as it is designed, sold and delivered is becoming too expensive for too many; that we are pauperisng people.

As a service (that likes to puff its chest out and call itself an industry) does this news make you feel good about the drive to upsell? Are you comfortable with a lack of transparency about pricing? Do the packages you offer, the lack of flexibility, the way that basic or simple is designed to look mean and cheap fill you with pride?

Are you filled with a drive to change, to build new and more responsive businesses where trustworthy services and products are offered in a culture of respect and openness?

Or do you dust off the top hat and smile to yourselves at the prospect of this new Victorian age?

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andrew plume
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andrew plume

yet another slightly distasteful insight into the workings of the mightly f’are

andrew

David Holmes
Guest

I am reliably informed by a good friend who works at a local funeralcare branch that yes, all clients are subject to the tappety tap of the desk bound PC on first meeting. Fail the online credit check and you are asked to pay for your funeral – up front.

James
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James

That is news to me, I wasn’t aware that Funeralcare credit checked all prospective clients, are you sure? Certainly our co-operative does not credit check families. Having said that if you were going to take out finance for a purchase of services totalling between £1,000 to £3,000 wouldn’t you expect to be credit checked. It is how it is carried out and explained that is perhaps more relevant? Even after receiving the results of a credit check it would also be how you use the data because it is only one indication of ability to settle the account to be… Read more »

Beverley Webb
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David – are you serious do Funeralcare credit check the arranger in advance of any service being provided at all?

David Holmes
Guest

Unsurprising. Despite my lowest price offer being £950 – some families still can’t afford it, let alone the Doctor’s, Minister’s and crematorium fee. If someone is really genuinely broke – the DWP are pretty hopeless and slow -what else can they do but refuse to be responsible for arranging a funeral? Crematorium fees have to be paid – sometimes in advance or soon after the cremation takes place. Doctor’s and Minister’s always want immediate payment. Funeral Directors are in a difficult position even when we bend over backwards to assist. What a shame if we all go the way of… Read more »

Richard
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Richard

Vale and Charles, if you like that, you might like… Charles Manby Smith, writing in Curiosities of London Life (1853) had little to say that was favourable to the industries that provided for funerals: “Here, when you enter his gloomy penetralia, and invoke his services, the sable-clad and cadaverous-featured shopman asks you, in a sepulchral voice—we are not writing romance, but simple fact—whether you are to be suited for inextinguishable sorrow, or for mere passing grief; and if you are at all in doubt upon the subject, he can solve the problem for you, if you lend him your confidence… Read more »

A Celeb
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A Celeb

Thinking about the effects of language, inexpensive is a much better word for an fd to use than cheap. Perhaps that’s why some of them still use the word cheap. Although, even basic funerals are not cheap.

Richard
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Richard

Punch magazine, in the mid-19th century, mocked the funeral trade by observing there are different qualities of grief according to the price you pay:
“For £2 10s., the regard is very small. For £5, the sighs are deep and audible. For £7 10s. the woe is profound, only properly controlled; but for £10, the despair bursts through all restraint, and the mourners water the ground, no doubt, with their tears”.
Over 150 years later, Dispatches…

Vale
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Vale

As Ru would say, ‘bingo’! What a great quote, Richard.

Martin
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Martin

The lack of transparency on cost, the unwillingness of some Fd’s to quote for a “cheap” funeral is really annoying, cheap cetainly does not have to mean nasty.
A recent experience of ours involved a certain branch of the news making funeral people trying to charge huge amounts for a plain pine coffin and then trying to stop the relatives from obtaining their own very much cheaper pine coffin, needless to say they did allow it in the end (after a few phone calls)but it should never of happened.