Funeral directors must make prices clearer, says UK regulator

Funeral directors across the UK must publish clear price lists and will be banned from paying hospitals and care homes for referrals under new measures to help bereaved families.

The legally enforceable rules are being brought in after an investigation by the competition watchdog found UK consumers were typically being overcharged by at least £400 – and possibly a lot more – when they paid for a funeral.

Average UK funeral costs have risen by 39% in the past decade, according to SunLife’s latest Cost of Dying report, reaching £9,263.

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) 调查, whose findings were published last summer, found that some funeral directors were providing “unacceptably low levels of care of the deceased”.

It found that the two largest firms in the sector, Co-op and Dignity, were often significantly more expensive than many of the small, typically family-owned businesses that operate the majority of branches in the UK.

Under the rules announced on Wednesday, 从 16 September all funeral directors must display a standard price list at all premises and on any website that includes the headline price of a funeral, making clear which individual items are included as well as the cost of additional products and services.

此外, 从 17 六月, funeral directors will be banned from making payments to incentivise hospitals, hospices, care homes or similar institutions for referring customers to a particular funeral director. They are also blocked from soliciting business through coroner and police contracts.

Martin Coleman, the chair of the panel that led the inquiry into the funerals industry last year, 说: “Organising a funeral is one of the hardest things that anyone must do, and it is vital that people are treated fairly. Customers need clear information so that they know what they will be charged and are able, if they wish, to compare the prices of different providers.

“As a result of CMA action, funeral providers must ensure that prices and services on offer are clear upfront, so that people can more easily make the choices that are right for them. We urge funeral directors and crematorium operators to start making these changes now. We will be keeping a close eye on the sector and stand ready to take action if firms don’t follow the rules.”