Frankly speaking

Fran Hall

Frank Field Labour MP

In a report published today the Work and Pensions Committee says the UK Government should follow the lead of the Scottish Government and conduct a broad review of burials, cremations and funerals, with a view to making changes that have a long-term impact on funeral inflation and reduce funeral poverty.

The Committee also says evidence it heard in its recent inquiry into publicly funded bereavement support suggests the funeral industry may not be operating in a way that serves bereaved, vulnerable people well. This evidence on the operation of the funeral industry has been passed to the Competition and Markets Authority.

Frank Field MP, chair of the Committee, said: “We did not set out to inquire into the funeral industry but it soon became apparent that the interaction between an opaque and outdated public system of bereavement support and a market in funeral services which simply does not operate “normally”, is causing problems.

Read the full report here

The NAFD has issued a statement in response calling into question ‘some highly inflammatory and unsubstantiated remarks made in the report’ – read it here

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David Holmes
4 years ago

I have always thought that each local DWP office should obtain a social fund funeral price from nearby funeral directors. When someone makes a claim, they can be directed to the areas lower cost funeral service provider or providers.

Knowing funeral directors, several will compete for this work, particularly if they know in advance that the DWP will settle the account. Every one wins? Frankly the present situation is intolerable for the bereaved and funeral directors, who risk not being paid – even the disbursements for the services provided.

Lucy
4 years ago
Reply to  David Holmes

David, hopefully this meeting next month with Baroness Altmann will shed some light on possible ways to move forward both for funeral directors and DWP. While I am sure funeral directors will effectively compete for funerals perhaps via the online checker that is being proposed, my worry then comes down to time. I was trying to help a family for quite some time before they decided the NHS would have to take care of funeral arrangements. The FD who has the contract for our local hospital kept the family waiting a further 3 weeks for the funeral and it certainly… Read more »

Jennifer Uzzell
4 years ago

Totally agree, Lucy, about the NAFD not representing many of us. We actively chose not to join because we do not believe that they give any protection at all to clients. I have been saying for a long time now that what is needed is a guaranteed fixed amount from the Social Fund with a number of FDs signing up to provide a service for this figure. That would solve so many problems!
An hourly rate for advice/support…I had not considered that! Hmmm…

Lucy Coulbert
4 years ago

I have undertaken a funeral this morning where the family were doing the majority of work themselves and hired me to do a few things for them and attend the funeral. I invoiced them per item and per hour of time on my funeral today. Yesterday they decided they would like me at the funeral longer than we had already arranged and I invoiced them accordingly. Everything was written down for them and sent to them in an email for them to agree before we undertook any work for them. No pressure to have things they didn’t want and they… Read more »

Jennifer Uzzell
4 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Coulbert

Oh we quite regularly provide that sort of support for our clients, but we have never done it on an hourly basis. It seems like a sensible idea!

Lucy Coulbert
4 years ago

While I agree that outside costs like Cremation and Cemetery fees are rising sharply and should be addressed, I am afraid I disagree with a number of the statements the NAFD have made. “However, liberally berating funeral directors, who work in the main for very small businesses, is not the way to address this.” Really? Small, family funeral directors make 60% of the funeral industry but not all are members of the NAFD. In fact, there are some independent companies that are now run like the national chains. I would suggest this isn’t an accurate statement. “However we would be… Read more »