We’d like just a few minutes of your time…

Fran Hall 3 Comments
Fran Hall


Dear reader

We’d like to ask for a few minutes of your time to respond to two important funeral related consultations.

The first is the Funeral Market Study by the Competition and Markets Authority. This forms part of a year long study into the state of the British funeral market which will examine how competition between funeral directors works and transparency issues in the provision of funerals, and will also look at competition in the crematoria segment of the industry.

For anyone who has an opinion on transparency of ownership or pricing of funerals, it is important that your voice is added to the responses that will be received. You can download the CMA Statement of Scope here. Responses are requested by June 28th 2018.

The second, parallel consultation is the Government’s Call for Evidence to aid in the design for a more appropriate regulatory framework for the pre-paid funeral plan sector. The government is particularly interested in views from all affected stakeholders, including funeral plan providers, funeral directors, insurers, asset managers, introducers, actuaries, solicitors, and consumer interest groups. The consultation document can be downloaded here. The consultation closes on August 1st 2018.

We’ve waited a long time for the government to show some interest in the funeral industry, so let’s make sure that the voices that are heard are telling them what is actually happening.

Team GFG


  1. Fran Hall

    We at Green Fuse and Heart And Soul Funerals think the recently announced investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is long overdue, to examine whether the information provided by funeral directors on prices and services is clear, transparent and sufficient to enable people to choose the best option for them, and to investigate the cost of cremation, which varies widely across regions, Devon being one of the most expensive places in the UK.
    The last government investigation was made on the cost of funerals was published in 2001 by The Office of Fair Trading (OFT). At that time, the main findings were:
    “A funeral is a ‘distress’ purchase – people don’t know what to expect, spend little time thinking about their purchase and feel under pressure to sort everything out quickly. People arranging funerals are generally not aware of costs. Once they have entered a funeral director’s premises they rarely make efforts to find the prices offered by other firms. Clear, reliable information is important. The industry often fails to inform consumers about prices and the ownership of the business they are dealing with, which is bad.”
    Change has been slow with regard to these.
    Most people have little idea what they are really paying for when they hire a funeral director. Most funeral directors’ websites don’t give detailed cost breakdowns. For example, does the funeral director make a commission or mark-up on the coffin, flowers, newspaper notices and other things they buy on your behalf and how much is that? These things are usually not clear. So it is difficult to know how much you are actually paying the funeral director. Also this lack of clarity makes it harder to tailor a funeral to your budget.

    A few years ago we decided to be transparent about pricing.
    All our prices are on our website and on a card we give out. We charge our published fees for caring for the person who has died, meetings and making arrangements, and for staff on the day. Everything else that is often marked up, cars, coffin, flowers, orders of service, are charged on to the client at cost. The cremation and doctors fees (the disbursements) are always at cost. So you can work out exactly what you are paying for our services.
    We think this should be an industry standard but we are the only funeral directors in Devon and one of a handful of funeral directors in the country to do this.
    Apart from funeral director fees the other main cost of a funeral is burial or cremation. In this country 75% of people are cremated and this is also being investigated by the CMA. The cost of cremation is £999 in Exeter and £945 in Torquay, having doubled in the last 10 years. Over the same period our average increase in funeral costs is just 50% including the higher cremation fee). In London the cost of cremation at Mortlake and Golders Green is £595 and £695 respectively. There really is no reasonable explanation why people in Devon have to pay so much more. We understand there are very high charges in other place, such as Lincolnshire.
    The crematoria try to justify their pricing by bleating on about the cost of new equipment and environmental costs. The only publicly available figures for crematoria are those published by Dignity PLC. In 2017 the income from their crematoria was about £74 million, the profit a whopping £40 million and the capital expenditure £4.6 million! Hardly a large proportion. Running crematoria is an incredibly profitable business. On that basis, if their prices were reduced by 40% they would still make a profit of nearly £20 million, still a profit margin of 35%.
    This situation prevails because of a lack of a real competition. The 5 crematoria within 30 miles of us tend to move their prices in line with each other. Someone living in Exeter is unlikely to have the funeral in Plymouth or Torquay because it is cheaper when most of the people who would attend would then have to travel for an hour. The two Plymouth ones have the same owner, the City Council. So price competition is, in reality, very limited.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>