Britain’s funeral market is to be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority amid rising costs for cremations and funerals.
As part of its investigation, the CMA will examine whether consumers are able to access ‘clear enough’ pricing information and get a ‘fair deal’.
Since the CMA’s announcement, shares in UK based Dignity, which is one of the biggest funeral providers in the country, have slumped by 14 per cent to 1,054p.
Rising costs: Britain’s funeral market is to be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority amid rising costs for cremations and funerals
Last year, the average cost of a funeral rose to £3,800, excluding extras, which can add a further £2,000 to the total cost.
For those in the poorest households, the cost of a funeral can take up to a third of their annual income, the CMA said.
The competition body will also look into the rising costs of cremations, which now account for over three quarters of funerals in the UK.
Across the country, the funerals market is estimated to be worth £2billion and there are 5,000 funeral director branches and 294 crematoria in operation.
Over 100 crematoria are privately operated and the rest are owned and operated by local authorities.
In parallel with the CMA’s investigation, HM Treasury has launched is own separate ‘call for evidence’ review into pre-paid funeral plans.
Clear pricing? As part of its investigation, the CMA will examine whether consumers are able to access ‘clear enough’ pricing information
Daniel Gordon, senior director of markets at the CMA, said: ‘People can understandably be very emotionally vulnerable when planning a funeral.
‘We therefore think it is important that – at what can be a particularly challenging time – the process is made as easy as possible.
‘As part of this study, we want to ensure that people can at least receive clear information on prices and the services making up a funeral, and that people get a fair deal on the cremation fees charged.’
The CMA will produce its interim report on the sector in six months time, with a full report expected within a year.
Depending on what its findings reveal, the CMA could kick off enforcement action against companies within the sector.
Earlier this week, Co-op Funeralcare launched a ‘direct to cremation’ service at a cost of £1,395, or £1,230 in Scotland. Having a loved one’s ashes delivered to your home by hand costs an extra £95.
Big business: The funerals market is estimated to be worth £2billion and there are 5,000 funeral director branches and 294 crematoria