CMA announces full funerals investigation

The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has used its interim report to announce it will consult on a full probe of the funeral market over concerns around “price hikes, hitting people at their most vulnerable”.

The interim report contained some encouraging signs for Independents. The CMA instead emphasised the role of larger firms in rising prices, saying: “While some smaller funeral directors have sought to keep their prices low, other providers – the larger chains in particular – have implemented policies of consistently high year-on-year price increases.“

SAIF has responded to the report, calling it a “wake-up call” for the profession.

SAIF’s full statement

Today, the profession we cherish has received a wake-up call. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its interim report on its review of the funeral sector. The document includes a series of findings which give cause for reflection and full market investigation is now proposed.

Whilst some of the report makes for difficult reading, we don’t believe hardworking independent funeral directors should feel discouraged. In fact, you should be proud of the work you do in caring for bereaved families and we urge you to continue serving your communities in the way you know best. Indeed, some of the CMA’s findings echo points we have been trying to make for years, such as the need to shop around to find the best price and that smaller funeral directors tend to offer better value than the larger chains.

We are also pleased to see transparency of ownership finally identified as an issue at official level. Independent funeral directors have long held concerns about large chains buying up independents and continuing to trade under the family firm’s name. Additionally, as the first UK funeral profession trade association to call for regulation of the sector, we also accept the need for better transparency around pricing particularly online and we have been urging all our members with websites to display their costs digitally.

The public would benefit from more information about how to arrange a funeral, covering quality and costs. We think the trade associations could play an invaluable role in assisting Government in this area.

In terms of next steps, SAIF will be working with the Government over the coming months to address some of the concerns outlined and we’ll be updating Members when available. We encourage you to read the report and offer any thoughts and reflections you may have.

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