Problems With Funeral Prices – Why The Market Isn’t Working.
It isn’t what some MPs think that is causing the problem. James Dunn, founder at Funeralbooker says: “Co-op Funeralcare’s sales figures (2016 ones, just released) show a widening gap in funeral costs quoted by independents and the largest chain in the UK; with the Co-op as much as 42% more expensive. There needs to be far greater transparency and online availability of the costs associated with funerals and what people should typically expect to pay. At the same time, it’s also vital that bereaved families feel supported and able to explore all their options so that they can choose the type of funeral that best suits their budget and their needs.“
The same authors research indicates that Dignity operate the most expensive crematoriums in the UK. In fact, 17 out of the top 20 most expensive are operated by Dignity. They charge twice as much as the cheapest crematorium.
Dignity recently bought the Co-ops crematoriums, consolidating their position in the marketplace. I wonder what happened to prices?
MPs have been misled as to the causes of Problems With Funeral Prices.
MPs have been misled into thinking that increasing sales of prepaid funeral plans are the reason for problems with funeral prices. The truth is actually the opposite – funeral plan providers help keep prices down, which is why both Dignity (in particular) and the Co-op are increasingly taking tight control of the sales of their plans. One of the new providers is even providing training and support to increase the number of independent funeral directors in an effort to keep funeral costs escalation under control.
In point of fact, regulatory and environmental pressures are a major cause of funeral price inflation. But Dignity’s crematoriums have a virtual monopoly in most of the areas they are in. So funeral directors pay their prices or tell families the funeral has to be held maybe 30+ miles away where the nearest non-Dignity crematorium is. And it might be further.
Cremation facilities are seriously expensive to set up from scratch, so it is hard for anyone to set up in competition. We are pleased to see that some are managing it though. The harder Dignity push their prices up, the easier it will be for others to compete, but it will never be easy. Perhaps the Competition and Markets Authority should look it Dignity’s crematoriums. In effect, they are local monopolies and should be price controlled.
There is a grave (sorry!) danger of the Co-op and Dignity – who are already working closely together – will use their position in the market to push prices up further. Dignity are growing their profits handsomely – at the expense of grieving families. And they do it by hiding behind the names of the family firms they have bought out so that they look independent.
We are proud of our support of genuine independent funeral directors who tend to offer a better service at a lower cost. We intend to continue to promote the services of independent funeral directors, and the prepaid plans which help to ensure the survival of competition in the market, which is under threat.