‘Wild West’ fu­neral sec­tor crit­i­cised

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - OPINION - Harry Bren­nan

The fu­neral sec­tor has been ac­cused of un­rea­son­able price hikes and pushy sales tac­tics by the Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Author­ity (CMA), a watch­dog, which has called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The price of a stan­dard fu­neral has rapidly in­creased over the past decade and now stands at be­tween £3,000 and £5,000, a CMA re­port found.

The costs of es­sen­tial el­e­ments such as coffins, burial and cre­ma­tion ser­vices have gone up by more than two thirds in the past 10 years, al­most three times the rate of in­fla­tion. While some fu­neral providers have in­tro­duced lower-cost op­tions, the CMA said: “This does not go far enough to make up for years of above-in­fla­tion price hikes.”

The re­port drew at­ten­tion to se­ri­ous con­cerns over the vul­ner­a­ble state of peo­ple re­cently be­reaved, who could eas­ily be ex­ploited by some fu­neral di­rec­tors charg­ing more.

Ian Strang, of the fu­neral com­par­i­son site Be­yond, said the re­port was a “clear in­di­ca­tion of how the sec­tor has been al­lowed to be­come like the Wild West”. He added that the British taboo around death meant peo­ple were less likely to shop around, po­ten­tially miss­ing out on thou­sands in sav­ings.

The watch­dog’s An­drea Coscelli said: “Peo­ple mourn­ing the loss of a loved one are ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble and at risk of be­ing ex­ploited.

“We want to hear from peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced poor prac­tices in the sec­tor, so that we can take any ac­tion needed to fix these prob­lems.”

The CMA is wel­com­ing re­sponses to its re­port un­til Jan 4 2019.

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