29/11/2018

Investigation into the UK funeral industry, our view

We welcome this independent scrutiny from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). A full investigation offers the opportunity to widen the scope to cover more than price and examine minimum care standards and quality of service in the funeral industry.

It is encouraging to see the CMA’s call for more transparent prices, both online and in person. At CPJ Field we have been publishing a full breakdown of our prices online for the last three years and distribute copies in our Funeral Homes. We hope this report will see all other Funeral Directors following suit.

Transparency and education are key issues we need to overcome as an industry. People need to know the implications of the choices available when planning a funeral and be guided through the process.

We note that the CMA is not a quality standards authority, but focuses on competition. Assessing the industry on price alone, as the CMA’s initial report has done carries a risk of implying that buying a funeral is a purely transactional purchase, which is not the case. To avoid damaging consumer trust in an industry which everybody needs to use at some point in life, we urge the authority to broaden its terms of reference to include quality of care and recommend minimum standards in their next report. Standards of care are vital when you’re working with customers at such a vulnerable time.

A deeper analysis of the options available to customers and the value they offer will be welcome because no two funerals are exactly alike. Every life is unique and customers often want funerals to reflect that. At CPJ Field we believe Funeral Homes need to offer flexibility and choice without hidden charges.

No one is more mindful than we of the distress customers face and our relationships with families continue for a year after the funeral itself. At CPJ Field our core purpose is being trusted to care for the living and the dead. We see this investigation as an opportunity to reassure customers and work together to ensure that high standards are upheld in every corner of the industry.