Standardised price lists for all

Fran Hall

Regular readers of the GFG blog will know that we have been calling for transparency in the funeral sector for well over a decade.

Last month, on 16th September, a seismic shift finally occurred when the Competition and Markets Authority’s Funerals Market Investigation Order 2021 finally came into effect.

All funeral directors in the UK are now required to comply with the Order, which, among other things, requires funeral directors to display price information in a clear and prominent manner, outside their premises, inside their premises and on their websites.

The CMA have specified exactly how information must be presented, with a Standardised Price List (SPL) which must follow the layout and wording supplied by them, an Additional Options Price List and a third price list showing information provided local crematorium operators.

In addition, funeral businesses must also similarly display their Terms of Business and Disclosure of Interests, including stating the ultimate owner of the business.

At last, people looking for a funeral director to help them organise a funeral will be able to compare prices between different funeral directors with ease – at the top of the Standardised Price List there is a total figure for the funeral director’s charges for their services for an attended funeral, below which is breakdown of how this total is arrived at.

The costs for an unattended funeral must also be displayed, and typical figures for burial and cremation fees must also be shown.

It is now, in theory at least, straightforward to compare funeral directors on the prices they charge, which will help people to understand the likely fees that they will be asked to pay – a hugely welcome development after years of opacity and confusion in how prices are displayed by varying businesses.

What we need to see now – and what the CMA will be monitoring – is total compliance from all funeral directors. Seven days after the Order came into effect, a disturbing number of companies seem not to have understood that this new situation is mandatory – we noted a number of well-established and prominent businesses who do not have a Standardised Price List on their website this weekend, while other premises appear to think displaying an A4 size poster at floor level in their window is complying with the Order.

It is incumbent on the funeral trade associations, head offices of large corporate companies and all independent funeral directors to ensure that members and branches are all compliant with the Order.

There is absolutely no excuse for not doing so, and there will be penalties incurred by those funeral directors who continue to fail to provide the information required.

Incidentally, we would add that it is also incumbent on the trade associations to make sure their own funeral houses are in order before using the CMA’s stipulations to attempt to hold businesses outside of their jurisdiction to account – and offering membership as protection.

The Good Funeral Guide have required all our Recommended funeral directors have their prices online for years, so, even though it has been onerous for firms who have always been transparent to follow requirements imposed because of the failure of the sector to be open about prices and ownership, we warmly welcome the CMA’s intervention.

It is regretful that this has been necessary. It is regretful that there still appear to be companies that don’t feel bereaved people deserve the courtesy of knowing what prices will be charged before they start making arrangements for a funeral. It is more than regretful, in fact, it is shameful.

If you come across funeral directors who aren’t displaying the mandatory documents, or if you happen upon a funeral director website that doesn’t have the Standardised Price List just one click away from the home page, do please let the CMA know, in confidence if you prefer. They are keen to hear about companies who are not complying.

The CMA Funerals Team can be contacted on funerals@cma.gov.uk

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