SAIF welcomes Royal London’s cost of funerals report

September 1, 2017   //   No Comments

The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) has welcomed the Royal London’s 2017 National Funeral Cost Index report which highlights the crucial role funeral directors play in providing help and guidance to the bereaved.

The findings show that funeral directors have also kept their price rises to an absolute minimum this year – with an average increase of 2.1%, which is below the rate of inflation.

SAIF Chief Executive Terry Tennens said: “According to the report more than 60% of people received support from a funeral director, a figure that is much higher than for any other source of advice, including friends and family.

“It shows the important role that funeral directors play in helping people cope with the death of a loved one and comes as little surprise. Our members play an active role in their communities and are dedicated to providing a high quality, professional service.”

Mr Tennens said this approach extended to ensuring all clients were fully aware of the range of funeral options available to them – including low cost alternatives.

“As part of our Code of Practice, all SAIF members are committed to transparency of costs to ensure families and loved ones can make an informed decision that is within their budget,” he said.

The report shows that the overall average cost of a funeral has risen by 3% this year to £3,784 compared to £3,675 in 2016.

The rise is largely due to significant, above inflation increases in cremation and burial costs and ministers’ fees.

Meanwhile, the number of low income families receiving financial support from the Government’s Funeral Expenses Payment (SFFEP) has fallen.

There were just 27,000 successful claims in 2017 – down from 29,000 in 2016 and 41,000 ten years ago. Although the average SFFEP award has increased from £1,410 to £1,429 this is a below inflation rise of 1.3% which means the gap between the funds awarded and the cost of funerals continues to widen.

Mr Tennens said: “There is no doubt that greater support is needed for families on lower incomes and we’re pleased that Royal London has made this a focus of its report.

“The Government’s £700 social fund payment is wholly inadequate and hasn’t risen in 15 years.  This is despite numerous consultations and committees looking at how the support can be reformed. It is an issue that we have been campaigning about for some time and will continue to support.

“The inadequate level of the payment and the length of time it takes to process claims can be incredibly upsetting for families at what is already a very distressing time.”

However, Mr Tennens added a note of caution regarding Royal London’s call for the funeral profession to provide more direct cremations where there is no traditional funeral service.

“Our members have been arranging direct cremations for many years,” he said. “However, in our experience many families prefer a more traditional approach. A direct cremation means there is no opportunity for friends and family to pay their respects and say a final farewell, which is often an important part of the grieving process.”

SAIF is a professional association with over 875 member firms who are all independent funeral directors, known for their high standard of service and a caring, traditional approach to their local communities.

All members are privately owned and a large proportion have been run by the same family for generations. They are not part of a national or international conglomerate.

As part of its Code of Practice all members are regularly inspected and are committed to transparency of costs and providing the highest quality, professional service.

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