CMA issues new guidance and sets out Order enforcement plan27/01/2023 // No Comments
The minority of funeral directors yet to comply with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)’s Funerals Market Investigation Order 2021 risk enforcement action this year.
The warning comes as the CMA published new guidance for funeral directors. The guidance can be viewed here. There is also specific guidance for funeral directors who operate four or fewer branches and that can be read here.
As SAIF members will be aware, the Order covers a range of issues, including the requirements for funeral directors and crematorium operators to provide price and other commercial information to customers.
Funeral directors and crematorium operators have been required to comply fully with the Order since September 2021. The CMA estimates that around five per cent of the market is currently non-compliant.
The Authority also claims that funeral businesses with more than four branches have held their prices on average to about £2,600 per funeral, representing a year-on-year real term reduction. SAIF is sceptical that the Order has led to price restraint across the industry, however, we believe that the threat of statutory regulation did prompt large corporate players to rein in their well-publicised above-inflation price increases.
As SAIF will always point out, independent funeral directors are renowned for offering the best value in the market to bereaved families.
The CMA says it recognises the efforts made by many businesses in the sector to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of the Order. It also appreciates the active support of trade associations like SAIF in encouraging compliance amongst members.
But the Authority’s monitoring work across the sector has revealed that some businesses are only partially compliant and in some cases, have made no effort at all to comply with their legal obligations.
The CMA is calling on all funeral directors and crematorium operators to “step up and help their customers purchase the funeral that best meets their needs and budget”.
SAIF maintains that the vast majority of members have been quick to comply with the CMA Order and we are always happy to assist those who may be struggling to comply. If you are yet to comply with the Order, we strongly encourage you to take necessary steps to avoid enforcement action, which could have serious consequences both professionally and personally.
The CMA has also produced a video about the Order featuring Director Dipesh Shah. This can be viewed here.