Pure Cremations goal is to offer the very best value and to increase operational efficiency rather than raise prices. At the Prepaid Funeral Review, we are keen to see this sector expand, but it is crucial that family and friends are aware that a direct cremation plan is in place and they won’t have the normal service at which to say goodbye.
Pure Cremation, the UK’s first dedicated provider of direct cremation, is setting a benchmark for the funeral industry to follow, leading the way on fulfilling the wish list set out in the CMA report published today.
The report, which highlights the need for a shake-up of the funeral industry, not only demonstrates that Pure Cremation is comfortably ahead of the curve but is well placed in shaping the future of the wider industry.
The report from the government-led Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) follows a two-year investigation into the inconsistent and excessive pricing for funeral and cremation services nationally.
It was prompted by the increasing costs of funeral services which for more than a decade have outstripped inflation, disproportionately affecting the nation’s poorest members of society when they are at their most vulnerable and pushing many into debt.
The most important recommendation demands transparency from all funeral directors and crematoria on pricing and ownership, something Pure Cremation has displayed on its website and literature since it opened its doors in 2015.
Bryan Powell, founder and CEO said, “Every funeral provider serves vulnerable customers and so they have a higher duty of care than other businesses when it comes to clear price and service information.”
The company is proud to be a consumer champion – holding its prices for the last 3 years, in contrast to the strongly criticised above-inflation price rises in both funeral homes and crematoria.
Bryan Powell commented, “Our goal is to offer the very best value and to increase operational efficiency rather than raise prices. We continue to make significant investments in staff, equipment and technology to achieve this.”
The CMA report recognises the increasing popularity of direct cremation – a cremation-only funeral with no mourners, no service, no church, officiant, cars or flowers. Pure Cremation was established to specialise in delivering this cost-effective, alternative farewell without any compromise in care or dignity.
This puts the company in a strong position to bring a fresh perspective to the suggested inspection and registration scheme, intended to give consumers confidence in standards of professional care and root out poor practice.
Catherine Powell, Director of Customer Experience, said: “As the leading non-traditional funeral provider we can offer valuable insights into the true needs and expectations of 21st century families and so ensure any inspection scheme is fit for purpose.”
Today’s report also highlights the difficulties faced by the bereaved when arranging a funeral, often for the first time.
Stephen Pett, of the Prepaid Funeral Review added “One of the top benefits of prepaid funeral plans is that a lot of the arrangements are already taken care of, at a price fixed (often) many years before. A recent case showed that savings could be made only days before a death.”
The CMA is frustrated by the lack of meaningful local competition in this market, something that Pure Cremation’s presence is helping to address. With the same all-inclusive fee across the UK (including Northern Ireland), almost every family now has access to an affordable alternative to an expensive, traditional funeral.
And, thanks to their trade service, grieving families across England and Wales can even combine the services of a local funeral home with a low-cost, unattended cremation at Pure Cremation’s own facility in Hampshire.
The report rightly touches on the financial consequences of not discussing funeral wishes in advance. Pure Cremation was the first major break away from traditional funerals, and the company was the first to launch a dedicated direct cremation pre-paid plan. This is proving extremely popular with the growing number of people who want to ensure their families spend as little as possible on the practicalities by providing for those modest costs themselves.
Catherine said: “The recommendations from the CMA are already embedded in the Pure Cremation DNA and we will continue to bring innovation to this stagnant market for the benefit of all customers – whatever style of send-off they choose.”
Normally, we don’t hear any complaints about funeral plans as they do their job smoothly.
However, there are two areas currently causing concern and keeping us busy trying to help, even though we have no direct involvement. PLEASE don’t call us when you have problems, but we are always interested to know if you would be kind enough to email us using the form below. So, the two major problems are:
Funeral Plan Complaints: plans sold by phone.
We do not agree with plans being sold by phone in the first place. But we are getting lots of calls about companies being slow to repay amounts paid ranging from £50 to £3,000 where the client cancels within the required period which typically ranges from 14 to 30 days. Perhaps they actually read the Terms and Conditions when they finally arrive and discover the plan is not all the salesperson said it was, or maybe they just realised it was not a decision which should be made in haste.
Anyway, our advice is to phone the company immediately if you want to cancel in the initial period when you can get your money back, and take the name of the person you speak to. Then follow it immediately with a letter, mentioning the name of the person you spoke too. Keeping a copy of the letter, and ideally, send it recorded delivery. Be aware that the procedure for retrieving cash from Trust Funds or Insurance Funds is not immediate, so as long as your refund request is acknowledged in writing or by email from the actual provider, you may need to be a little patient. It could take as long as 5 weeks or so.
2. Complaints about Funeral Plans affected by Coronavirus.
These are a different kettle of fish: many funerals have been affected, and it has been impossible to deliver the full funeral the deceased had paid for. Not all funeral plan companies are Regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority, so they can’t help with unregulated ones. See the providers review which should indicate if they are. We approached the Funeral Planning Authority for a statement, and this is what they said:
“What happens when some element of the plan cannot be delivered? The Funeral Planning Authority has not issued any specific guidance largely because trying to make rules to address the number of different potential situations was likely to lead to more unintended consequences. However, if there is an element of a plan that cannot be delivered we would expect FPA registered providers to treat their customers fairly and provide an alternative service or an appropriate refund for the element of service not delivered. For any customer or family with issues, who have plans with FPA registered providers, our advice is to have the conversation with the provider in the first instance. If that doesn’t address their concerns then to raise a formal complaint with the provider and if that is not resolved then complain to us. There is a form on our website that can be completed ( https://funeralplanningauthority.co.uk/contact-us/complaint-form/ ) or email us at info@
Clearly, not all firms are FPA Regulated, but their recommendations are perfectly reasonable. Where the firm is unregulated, you might wish to approach the local Trading Standards Office but you should first have complained about the fact that the funeral plan was not fully fulfilled and no sensible alternative offered, by telephone and in writing to the provider. Some funeral directors will actually have dealt with the matter already, by allowing extra flowers, printing or an upgraded urn etc.
We cannot resolve complaints about funeral plans, but we are interested in your experiences, so please let us know about them.
It should be in your inbox very shortly.
Please do give me a call if you have any questions, 9 am to 9 pm any day.
Steve 0800 0588 240
We salute those families who are choosing direct cremation in order to play their part in protecting their communities
LEADING DIRECT CREMATION PROVIDER INCENSED BY MP’S UNHELPFUL AND CARELESS APPEAL TO SENIOR CLERGY FOR RELAXATION OF LOCKDOWN MEASURES FOR FUNERALS
One of the UK’s leading dedicated direct cremation providers has branded MP’s concern that ‘the wishes of the deceased and bereaved are not being fulfilled with a proper committal in the church of their wish’ as being careless and unhelpful when families are already having to make difficult choices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A letter signed by 36 MP’s was this week sent to Lord Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops of the Church of England asking for church doors to reopen suggesting they should ‘consider, most intently, the pain and anguish of those families unable to have a funeral’.
The action follows UK Government regulations which limits those attending funerals to immediate family members, with councils in some areas even banning mourners altogether for a brief time. As a result, the only options available to families are either a direct cremation or very small attended funeral held at the graveside or crematorium.
Catherine Powell, co-founder and Customer Experience Director of Pure Cremation believes that the letter branding direct cremation as a “tragedy” is highly irresponsible and this language only adds to the grief and distress suffered by the bereaved.
Catherine Powell commented: “We salute those families who are choosing direct cremation in order to play their part in protecting their communities. We are proud to be able to give them valuable reassurance and comfort by sharing the inspiring stories from the thousands of families who have deliberately chosen this simple, unattended cremation as a way to break away from tradition and to take control over the farewell events.”
Since the pandemic began, Pure Cremation has been doing its utmost to support families who find themselves arranging a direct cremation even though this wouldn’t have been their first choice for saying goodbye to a loved-one.
Catherine continued: “COVID-19 has essentially stripped families of the opportunity to hold a traditional funeral surrounded by family and friends. As you can’t postpone laying a loved one to rest indefinitely, it makes great sense to hold a simple and respectful cremation without delay and focus on a proper celebration of life or thanksgiving service once the restrictions are lifted.”
Direct cremation has increased in popularity over the last five years as more people look for an alternative to the usual “funeral formula” and this is an escalating trend. Pure Cremation’s growth is evidence of this, with sales of their funeral plan doubling each year, resulting in more than 10,000 active plans in April 2020.
She adds: “Unfortunately the MPs who wrote to the Bishops on this topic seem more interested in raising their profile than considering the impact their words might have on all the bereaved families who have made the difficult decision to separate the two parts of a funeral by arranging a direct cremation.
“They should be supporting their grieving constituents by emphasising the positives – more time to plan the perfect farewell, more time to gather the memories and stories that will make the event a poignant and accurate reflection of the life that has been lived.”
An early pioneer of direct cremation, Pure Cremation is the only dedicated provider with its own crematorium and the only firm operating throughout the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland.
Based in Andover, Hants, the company employs its own specialist team of 61 staff who demonstrate real compassion and care for the families they serve, right from the initial phone call through to the hand delivery of the ashes.