Independents offer best value – Funeral Cost Index

07/09/2018   //   No Comments

Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index 2018 is a commendable document which shines a light on the prices bereaved people are likely to pay in saying goodbye to a loved one.

The figures show that funeral directors have clearly acted in the public interest and have reduced their fees in recent years.

The report also confirms what we at SAIF already knew: independent funeral directors offer better value than the large corporates.

Family funeral directing firms across the country are charging on average 10% less than big businesses like Dignity, Co-op Funeralcare and Funeral Partners.

We encourage people to shop around and not pay more than they need to for a funeral, particularly if it means a better, more personal service for a lower price.

Perhaps, the most worrying finding of the Index – and this is also something we’ve known for a long time – is that funeral prices are being pushed up by rises in burial and cremation costs.

Local authorities hit by spending cuts are desperate to find ways to bring in revenue. Nevertheless, it’s unacceptable that bereaved people are bearing the brunt of austerity. They should not be seen as an easy source of revenue.

On the topic of austerity, Royal London’s call on the Government to reform the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment is welcome and adds to the growing number of organisations and individuals who have highlighted the inadequacy of the benefit.

The majority of the public consider the collection and care of the deceased along with the coffin to be necessary parts of a funeral.

At £700 the SFFEP is unable to cover these costs. We support Royal London’s call on the Government to reform the benefit.

Elsewhere, the report states that around 40% of funeral directors are not making clients aware of their cheapest funeral package.

We cannot be sure of the reasons for this and there are bound to be many. At SAIF, our members are required by our Code of Practice to clearly display in their premises the prices of all their funerals, including a simple funeral. Additionally, the Code requires members to provide a full estimate of costs to clients.

The only aspect of the report which we might query is the cost of a coffin. We don’t believe most people are spending £980 on a coffin and we ask Royal London to revisit this figure and their methodology in next year’s Index, perhaps looking at the most frequently sold coffin price rather than the average. We think this is likely to be in the region of £400.

On the whole, Royal London’s National Funeral Cost Index is welcomed, and we hope the funeral sector and policymakers in local and national government give it the consideration it deserves.

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