In this section you will find the latest news and campaign updates from the National Association of Funeral Directors.
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The NAFD has welcomed news that the Competition and Markets Authority intends to hold a full market investigation into the effectiveness of competition in the funerals sector.
You can read the information they have published today (28 March) by clicking here.
The NAFD has backed this proposal from the outset, having raised concerns that the initial six month market study only enabled the CMA to scratch the surface of the sector, leading it to overlook important evidence and drawing conclusions that were neither accurate nor reflective of the funerals sector as a whole.
NAFD calls on the CMA to widen the scope of its proposed market investigation to include the sale and marketing of funeral plans
In a submission to the Competition and Markets Authority’s consultation on the scope of a funerals market investigation, the National Association of Funeral Directors has confirmed that, while it is pleased that the CMA is considering extending the scope to include the delivery of funeral services arising from the redemption of prepaid funeral plans, it would like to see the CMA go further and include all interactions between funeral plan vendors and consumers within the scope of the investigation.
In the response, submitted on 13 March 2019, the NAFD agreed with the CMA’s preliminary view that the financial and prudential aspects of prepaid funeral plans (ensuring the financial stability of funeral plan providers) should not be included in the scope of the CMA’s investigation and should remain within the current HM Treasury review of whether the funeral plan market should be brought under the regulatory remit of the Financial Conduct Authority. This is because the financial and prudential operation of the funeral plan market bears significant resemblance to that of the wider financial services market.
The NAFD is pleased to see the Competition and Markets Authority is consulting on whether a potential market investigation into the funeral sector should include services “supplied by funeral directors in the United Kingdom arising from the redemption of pre-paid funeral plans.” (Consultation on Scope of Market Investigation – published 28 February 2019).
This is something the NAFD and others have consistently called for as we believe it is not possible for the CMA to fully understand how consumers buy funeral services unless it considers the sector in its entirety.
We are pleased that the CMA team has listened to the concerns raised and look forward to responding to the consultation.
Read the case we made to the CMA here: https://bit.ly/2H5zna9
Members of the National Association of Funeral Directors, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, have given their backing to tighter regulation of the funeral profession that will help them demonstrate the high quality and standards of care they offer to bereaved families and root out bad practice within the sector.
Almost 90%, from smallest independent family firms to large corporate businesses, told the NAFD they wanted to see tougher standards for inspections – with more than three quarters also wanting to see requirements placed on funeral directors to prove their fitness to practise, on a regular basis.
Two thirds said they want to see regulation having some kind of statutory (government) footing and it is notable that some of the smallest funeral firms (those arranging less than 500 funerals a year) are equally as supportive of tougher standards and a statutory approach as larger firms.read more…
In January, following Freedom of Information Requests to local councils, Royal London revealed that above-inflation increases in local authority cremation and burial fees has generated profits of almost £100 million for councils in the last year, with an average profit margin of more than 43%.read more…
With effect from 16 February 2019, the issue of all death registration certificates, by the General Register Office (GRO), in England and Wales will incur a new fee of £11, regardless of when the registration took place.read more…
In December, the NAFD met with the Competition and Markets Authority to discuss publication of the CMA’s interim report and its consultation on the launch of a full market investigation.
The NAFD reiterated in the meeting that the Association and its members would like to see greater oversight of the funeral profession and that it welcomes discussions about improving transparency, identifying a consistent minimum set of industry standards and what kind of regulatory structure should be adopted.
However, the Association also made it clear that it does not accept many of the sweeping statements made about funeral directors in the report – as they simply do not tally with the evidence not only presented to, but also commissioned by, the CMA over the course of the Market Study.
As a consequence, the NAFD responded to the CMA’s consultation, which closed in early January, that it believes a full market investigation is necessary to ensure that the CMA is able to reach a greater understanding of what consumers want and how funeral directors operate.
The NAFD also sought reassurance about how the CMA will ensure balance and fairness during any market investigation.
The National Association of Funeral Directors has welcomed publication of the Competition and Markets Authority’s interim report this morning, following its initial study of the funeral sector. As a building block to understanding how funeral firms of all shapes and sizes operate and how consumers want to arrange funerals, this report is an important first step. However, there are some conclusions made in this report which make it clear that the short six months the CMA has had to compile it has only allowed them to scratch the surface of the sector. The NAFD warmly welcomes the opportunity for further dialogue with the CMA, through the forthcoming consultation process, to help them get right to the heart of the funeral profession.
The NAFD’s members are united in their determination to arrange funerals which help bereaved families to come to terms with the loss of a loved one and, over the last few years, the vast majority have already taken important steps to make sure they are providing a greater range of choices, more easily accessible information and a wider range of funeral options. There is still much more to be done and the NAFD and its members are committed to learning as much from this opportunity to analyse the sector as possible, and to responding openly to the challenges laid at its door in this initial report.
Equally, as a report which is primarily concerned with pricing and competition considerations, the NAFD believes strongly that these findings should not be seen as any reflection on the high operational standards delivered by the NAFD’s members, nor the tireless work of thousands of compassionate and capable funeral directors and arrangers across the UK who, according to the CMA’s own consumer research, are highly valued for the way they support and care for bereaved people through one of life’s most traumatic events.
Visiting a deceased loved one in the chapel of rest can understandably be a distressing experience for some people. However it can also be comforting, and it is proven to be an important part of the grieving process.
Even with refrigeration, the human body will begin to deteriorate significantly within a couple of days and so embalming plays an important role in helping families to come to terms with loss by enabling them to see their loved one, in death, without this deterioration causing even more distress. Currently, only embalming using formalin (the liquid version of formaldehyde) is able to achieve this. The funeral director is able to present the deceased person at peace and as close to their appearance before death as possible; particularly where there has been a postmortem examination, or traumatic death – or to accommodate the average two to three week gap between death and the funeral due to delays in the process of obtaining the necessary paperwork required to release the body. Funeral directors would never embalm a case without the express consent of the family and it could take another day or two to obtain that too. Often embalming is therefore restorative as much as it is preservative.
The NAFD has welcomed the results of new research by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) highlighting that the overwhelming priority when choosing a funeral was to follow the wishes of the deceased person.
Funeral directors were chosen on locality and previous experience, the CMA Funerals Market Study research report said, while the end cost of the funeral was broadly the same as had been envisaged at the start.
While most people did not shop around, the report said that “a typical face-to-face meeting reassured respondents that they had made the right choice of provider” and “that funeral directors explained available options and associated costs well.”