In this section you will find the latest news and campaign updates from the National Association of Funeral Directors.
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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.”
ITV Tonight programme highlights the importance of asking detailed questions before buying a funeral plan
Funeral plans can play an important role to play in terms of helping people to plan for and off-set the cost of their funeral, removing some of the uncertainty and distress for families by ensuring they know that they are arranging the funeral that their loved one would have wanted. Given the sensitive nature of the purchase being made and the fact that it is something people may only do once in their lifetime, ensuring funeral plans are sold appropriately is of particular importance.
The ITV Tonight programme showed in its broadcast tonight (11 October 2018) how important it is to ask detailed questions of the plan provider to make sure the plan covers everything you need it to and you are aware of any charges or fees that the plan provider will retain before passing your funds to your chosen funeral director.
If you are thinking of taking out a funeral plan, the NAFD recommends that you follow these five simple steps.
NAFD highlights importance of choosing a funeral director that’s inspected, in response to Dignity report
The NAFD welcomes anything which helps the funeral profession to provide the best possible care for bereaved families.
A new report, commissioned by Dignity, makes a useful contribution to the wider debate about how we make certain that all funeral directors can be properly assessed for their operational standards, not just those firms which currently abide by a Code of Practice and are regularly inspected, which all NAFD members are.
Despite the frenzy led by some politicians over funeral poverty, the number of people unable to afford a funeral has not grown in two years, according to YouGov research.
The new survey revealed that 12% of people surveyed said they had no means of paying for a funeral in any way, the same figure as when previous YouGov research was carried out two years ago. However, the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) said today that those in that bracket will continue to struggle until the inadequacies of the Government’s Funeral Expenses Payment, which has remained static since 2003, is addressed.
The survey also revealed that the majority of people surveyed who have used a funeral director in the last five years do NOT think that funerals are too expensive, with 83% saying that funeral directors are offering good value for money.
It also highlights the need for a change in consumer thinking – the majority of Brits accept that it is their responsibility to pay for their own funeral, yet 59% have not made any plans to do so.
Following the written statement today (11 June 2018) by Lord O’Shaughnessy, Minister at the Department of Health, outlining the Government’s long-awaited response to the 2016 consultation into death certification procedures, Past President Nigel Lymn Rose – who has campaigned for change to these outdated and confusing procedures for many years, on behalf of the NAFD – said:
“Having waited for two years for the Government’s proposals to make death certification more consistent, and less distressing and confusing for grieving families, we find ourselves still waiting – as the Government has decided to defer any substantive reforms of certification procedures for at least another year, while focusing instead on internal matters such as introducing Medical Examiners into the NHS, a role which is designed to root out malpractice.
The announcement, which only applies to England at present, also only focuses on deaths in hospital whereas, in reality, the greater concern is the deaths of those that die outside an NHS setting. We welcome the news there will be no additional public charge for the Medical Examiner’s service in this first phase, but the Department of Health warns in the document that the service will at some point need to be funded, indicating that bereaved families are likely to continue to be charged, it will be extended to burials as well as cremations, and funeral directors will be expected to collect it.
“In our view, the Department of Health has let the public down. Faced with the death of a loved one, or the knowledge that one is imminent, families will have to continue to have to quickly decide whether the person they love will be buried or cremated – a somewhat brutal question which is often extremely distressing for them – in order to negotiate one of two entirely different certification routes in order to get a Medical Certificate of Cause of death (MCCD) and be able to arrange the funeral. We have campaigned for years for these procedures to be more straightforward and respectful of the needs of bereaved people and it is infuriating that the government has chosen to avoid progressing these vital reforms again.”
The NAFD has welcomed the announcements, this morning, of a HM Treasury consultation regarding changes to the regulation of pre-paid funeral plans and a Competition & Markets Authority investigation into whether the information provided by funeral directors on prices and services is clear enough for people to be able to choose the best option for them.
The NAFD has been encouraging greater visibility of pricing for several years, with a significant number of NAFD members now publishing their prices online. At the recent NAFD Conference in Durham, the Association announced the development of a new website for the public, set to be launched in July, on which NAFD funeral directors will be encouraged to publish service and pricing information.
The Association has an ongoing dialogue with the Competitions & Markets Authority and we are pleased to see that key points we have raised with them are reflected in their announcement. The Association has also called for tighter regulation of funeral plan sales and recently wrote to Treasury Minister John Glen setting out its concerns.
We are studying today’s announcements carefully. We have been invited, and look forward to, participating in the consultation process.
Today (26 April 2018), the NAFD welcomed the second Fairer Finance report into how the sale of funeral plans should be regulated, having been involved in shaping its findings, and set out the Association’s preferred options for the future regulation of the sector.
In launching the report, which was sponsored by Co-op Funeralcare, Dignity, Ecclesiastical and Golden Charter, James Daly of Fairer Finance said: “There is not enough protection for customers buying pre-paid funeral plans. These products can cost several thousand pounds and, crucially, the customer won’t be around to see whether the promises made to them have been kept. We’re concerned that a small but significant minority of businesses in this sector are taking too much in commission and administration fees and may not be putting enough aside to keep the promises they have made to customers.