The Funeral Planning Authority and Funeral Plans

What is the role of the Funeral Planning Authority in the regulation of Funeral Planning? It is not an official body, it is a Trade Association which does indeed seek to raise standards by way of self-regulation.  But that does not mean that firms who choose not to subscribe are in any way inferior.  We certainly keep an eye on them!

Overall regulation of the financial aspects of UK Funeral Plans is streets ahead of that in many countries, and the industry has a proud record of delivering on its promises (though you do need advice on the small print, which is why The Prepaid Funeral Review exists).

But on with the Safe Hands Press Release:

“SafeHands Thanks Dignity for bringing clarity to consumers regarding the FPA.

NFFD and SafeHands thank Dignity for assisting our fight in bringing clarity to consumers relating to the Funeral Planning Authority.

Recently, we had a discussion with a Building Society who had misleading statements on their website with reference to Dignity Funeral Plans. Their website stated that “Dignity is a member of the Funeral Planning Authority, the official body that oversees companies who offer funeral plans” –

We would like to Thank Dignity, one of the UK’s largest providers of funeral plans, for officially requesting that all of their resellers alter the phrasing to “Dignity is a member of the Funeral Planning Authority, the professional body that oversees the operation of registered funeral plan companies”. Doing this has gone some way to reassuring us that the funeral planning industry remains credible and transparent and that consumers are given the correct information.

Now, our stance on the FPA has always been quite clear. Whilst we appreciate the merits of any self-regulated body designed to protect the consumer, the public opinion that the FPA is in some way a) Official or b) an Authority is deeply concerning as this is simply not the case.

The FPA has its own code of conduct, not too dissimilar to that of an old energy firm whom the FPA director, Mr Harland, used to work with, which is designed to put consumers at ease by suggesting that no “Cold Calling” should take place, and that Member’s should act decently, honestly and ethically and also that, should anything happen to one of its members, the remaining members would discuss the possibility of looking after the invested monies of their customers. This is far from a concrete arrangement in our view and leaves a great deal of ambiguity.

That said, we have no issue with the FPA remaining as a self-regulated, non-official body provided that the consumer is not misled into thinking that they are in some way an authority over the entire industry or, potentially worse, a legal requirement (as written and subsequently removed upon our request on a some of its members webpages).

Safe Hands Funeral Plans, in conjunction with the National Federation of Funeral Directors, put transparency and consumer interest at the forefront of everything we do. Therefore, we have no interest in joining such an organisation and we will continue to contact the compliance departments of all Funeral Plan Providers and their respective resellers to remove misleading statements regarding the Funeral Planning Authority from marketing materials and websites.

Please contact us if you notice any providers or resellers who state that the Funeral Planning Authority are an ‘Official Body’ or that it is implied that they are an ‘Authority’ over the funeral planning industry and we will ensure our legal representatives take the appropriate action.”