CMA launches funeral market investigation

28/03/2019   //   No Comments

Today, the Competition and Markets Authority has made the announcement our profession has been patiently waiting for. It is to proceed with a market investigation.

The decision comes as no surprise, given the concerns outlined in the CMA’s interim report on the funeral market last November.

Many family-run funeral firms across the UK will welcome this decision but with the caveat that the panel’s investigation is thorough and gathers information and evidence from a wide range of stakeholders, in order to ensure any follow-up remedies are proportionate and do not result in small firms facing an unrealistic regulatory burden.

So, what does a market investigation mean in practice?

According to the UK Government’s website, the aim is to consider whether there are “features of a market that have an adverse effect on competition (AEC), and if so what should be done about them. Features can include structural features (for example, concentration, entry barriers and regulation) and supplier or customer conduct”.

The funeral market investigation is to be conducted by panel comprised of Richard Feasey, Sheila McClelland and Karthik Subramanya, chaired by Martin Coleman.

Details of the inquiry will be published on its website, which we assume will be hosted by the CMA.

According to the Government website, “in addition to frequent contact with staff, parties to investigations have a number of opportunities to meet decision makers in the course of an investigation”.

As such, SAIF members can rest assured that we will work closely with the CMA and the panel to ensure your views are represented and that it has a full understanding of the work of independent funeral directors across the land.

We will, where appropriate, call on you for your input. It’s essential that you participate for the benefit of bereaved families and for the future of the profession.

The market investigation is likely to run for 18 months and any remedies will be implemented within six months. Where we disagree with elements of the investigation and its outcomes, we will give careful consideration to the option of a Competition Appeal Tribunal.

During the investigation process, the message to independent funeral directors from SAIF is to continue doing the fantastic work you do, serving bereaved families in your communities.

Indeed, we are about to begin a new chapter in the history of UK funeral directing and we should treat this as an exciting opportunity to raise standards where needed and showcase excellence.

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