Over the past couple fo years, a lot has been spoken about the ongoing investigation by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) into the funeral industry, and the fear that has been palpable in some parts of the industry about the possibility of tighter regulations and governance.
Today, after many years of deliberations, the CMA has announced a new order to the industry regarding standardisation and transparency of pricing within the funeral sector.
The new order brings into law several regulations which both instruct funeral directors to standardise and publicise their prices, but also which prohibit certain practises which some unscrupulous funeral directors engage in, such as offering bribes and other incentives to third parties (including doctors and/or hospices) for recommending them to the bereaved. It is now illegal from tomorrow for funeral directors to have any form of private professional agreement with any third party designed to sway the decision-making of families at the time of their bereavement.
This news has been welcomed by N. S. Wibberley Funeral Directors. Our Managing Director, Nicholas Wibberley has said: “I am delighted that the CMA has today announced these new regulations and prohibitions. I am pleased and proud that everything included in this order is already happening at N. S. Wibberley Funerals. I am so pleased that the law has caught up with the experience of many bereaved families, and that the underhanded and unprofessional tactics used by many in the funeral industry is now banned. Families will be able to have the the freedom to make informed and personal decisions, without being taken advantage of when they are at their most vulnerable.”
The full text of the press release can be seen below:
Last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) completed its in-depth market investigation into the funerals sector. This identified a number of concerns, including thatprices for similar services differed considerably between funeral directors and the way that information was provided made it hard for families to compare prices and choose the right combination of services for their loved ones.
The CMA therefore decided to implement a package of ‘sunlight remedies’, which it has been consulting on with the sector, including funeral providers, trade bodies, charities and customer representative groups.
Many of these remedies have now been made into law through an Order. In addition, further remedies concerning the regulation of funeral directors have been recommended to the government.
The Order requires that, from 16 September 2021, all funeral directors must display a Standardised Price List at their premises and on their website. This list must include:
- The headline price of a funeral.
- The price of the individual items comprising the funeral.
- The price of certain additional products and services.
In addition, from 17 June 2021, funeral directors may not:
- Make payments to incentivise hospitals, palliative care services, hospices, care homes or similar institutions to refer customers to a particular funeral director.
- Solicit for business through coroner and police contracts.
Crematorium operators will also be required to provide specified price information to funeral directors and customers.
The CMA expects all funeral directors and crematorium operators to take action to ensure the changes are implemented by the legal deadlines.
Martin Coleman, CMA Panel Inquiry Chair, said:
“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.”
More information on the Order can be found on the funerals market investigation web page.