In this section you will find the latest news and campaign updates from the National Association of Funeral Directors.
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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.
The Scottish Parliament has signalled the first step to fairness, voting to introduce index-linked funeral payments, signalling a major step forward in the fight to help bereaved families.
The NAFD, which has been campaigning strongly for the move at Holyrood and Westminster for a number of years, welcomed the news from Edinburgh. Interim CEO Graham Lymn said he hoped politicians at Westminster would now follow suit and look at linking funeral payments to inflation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A new report, highlighted in today’s Daily Mail (How cheap funeral plans flogged online leave families facing a nasty bill), has highlighted concerns, shared by the National Association of Funeral Directors, about the pressure selling tactics of sales agents acting for less scrupulous funeral plan providers.
Funeral plans can provide peace of mind to families that funeral costs will be taken care of, when the time comes – and there are many excellent funeral plans available to buy from highly reputable firms. However, the NAFD has been concerned, for some time, that agents acting for less scrupulous funeral plan companies are subjecting vulnerable people to pressure selling tactics and, in some cases, funeral plans are being sold that will not adequately cover the costs of the chosen funeral.
The NAFD strongly advises the public to talk directly to funeral directors about their funeral plan needs – and to check that any funeral plan provider they are considering abides by the Funeral Planning Authority’s standards and scrutiny requirements.
The NAFD has appointed Graham Lymn as interim Chief Executive Officer. Graham is a former NAFD National President, with six years’ experience serving on the Association’s Executive Committee and, prior to that, he served as President of the Funeral Standards Council as well as President of the Co-operative Funeral Service Managers’ Association.
Graham, who started in his role today (2 April), is expected to lead the Association for six to nine months. Part of the role will be assisting the Officer team with recruitment of a permanent incumbent and providing an extensive handover, enabling the new recruit to quickly understand the unique challenges of the funeral profession.
Following the broadcast of tonight’s Hunted and Confronted programme on Channel 5, in which an independent funeral plan sales representative went ‘off script’ and appeared to put pressure on an elderly lady to buy a plan which might not have met all of her needs, the NAFD would like to draw attention to its Five Step Guide to Buying a Funeral Plan.
The National Association of Funeral Directors believes that funeral plans can have an important role to play in terms of helping people to not only plan for and off-set the cost of their funeral, but also to remove some of the uncertainty and distress for families in knowing that they are arranging the funeral that their loved one would have wanted. However it is important to ensure the plan you buy is right for you and will cover what you need it to when the time comes.