Funeral industry faces investigation over soaring prices

Britain’s funeral industry is facing a major investigation from the competition watchdog after findings found the price of a funeral had risen by three times the rate of inflation in just 10 years.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the huge rise in the price of a funeral or cremation did not appear to be justified and put vulnerable people at risk.

The essential elements of a funeral have increased by more than two-thirds in the last decade, while costs for cremations – which now account for 77% of all funerals – have rocketed by 84% on average.

The CMA said it believed a major market investigation of Britain’s £2 billion funeral market was now needed to tackle the issue.

The CMA’s initial research has shown that people generally spend £3,000 to £5,000 organising a funeral.

This would represent nearly 40% of annual outgoings for those on the lowest income.

Funeral poverty has a very human cost as several ITV News investigations have revealed.

Earlier this year, ITV News found relatives were leaving their loved ones in mortuaries for months as families could not afford the cost of a funeral.

A Freedom of Information request by ITV News revealed that a quarter of hospital trusts in England have held bodies for three months or more.

Grieving grandson, Curtis Colt, a 19-year-old from Northampton, could not afford the burial he wanted for grandfather, but there was no one else to pick up the bill.

“My grandpa has been held for five months, there are no words to describe it,” Mr Colt told ITV News in August.

“You can’t sleep at night, you can’t eat – all you’re thinking about is the funeral.”

“To know he’s just laying there, it makes me feel sick.”

Louise Milligan, Bereavement Services and Mortuary Manager for Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, told ITV News earlier this year that the “cost of funerals can be extortionate” with costs, even for a basic funeral, running in the thousands that many can not afford.

“It’s horrible for us to have to go through to see the families and to hear the families talking about that.”

“They’re trying to grieve, they’re trying to lay their loved ones to rest and they feel like they’re letting them down and it’s horrible, it really is,” Ms Milligan told ITV News.


Date: 30th November 2018