Shop around before choosing your funeral service provider says General Manager of Heart of England Co-operative Society’s Funeral Division


Tuesday, September 4, 2017

Darryl Smith, Funeral General Manager

The boss of The Co-operative Funeralcare in Coventry, Warwickshire, south Leicestershire and Northamptonshire is urging consumers to shop around before choosing their funeral service provider.

The call follows the publication of the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index this week which revealed funeral poverty is at an all time high of £160 million, with funeral costs rising three per cent over the past year and families are taking on an average debt of £1,680 to over the cost of a funeral.

This represents an increase of £79 on last year and a rise of £375 since 2014.

Darryl Smith, General Manager of the Heart of England Co-operative Society’s Funeral Division, which operates a network of 13 funeral homes across the region, said there is much consumers can do to protect themselves and their families against these rising costs which continue to rise year on year.

The report shows families in the West Midlands are paying the highest prices outside of London – with the average service costing £3,990.

Within the region Coventry is among the most expensive places to die – with burials costing an average £5,258 and cremations costing an average £3,340.

Nuneaton was the cheapest area in the West Midlands for burials at £3,195 although cremations were the most expensive in the area at £3,572.

Leamington Spa burials cost an average of £4,284 while cremations stood at £3,223, while Rugby burials and cremations cost £3,909 and £3,368 respectively.

The report did state many consumers showed a tendency to choose the first funeral director they came into contact with, rather than shop around. It also said much of this year’s increases stemmed from a rise in disbursement fees – covering the cost of the cemetery or crematorium – which are out of the control of the funeral director.

Darryl said: “This report shows we all want to give our loved ones a good send off but some are pushing themselves into debt to do so. Apparently one in six of us are struggling with funeral costs.

“As funeral service providers every one of us has a responsibility to guide families through these challenging times. Many people who come to us have not had to arrange a funeral before. It can be one of life’s most challenging and daunting experiences which we all face at a time when emotions are already riding high.”

Darryl urged families to start shopping round online before setting foot in a funeral home. “Funeral directors should display all their prices on their websites or apps so that people know what they are dealing with and they feel comfortable. If a funeral director does not display their prices then you need to ask them why not?

“We always provide an estimate when arranging a funeral, so families know where they stand financially and you need to Steer clear of any funeral director which is unable to give you an accurate estimate.”

In 2016 the local Co-operative Funeralcare introduced unattended funerals. The cheapest option on the market, offering a simple direct cremation service without a funeral ceremony, a church service, limousines, flowers or mourners.

The ability to separate any ceremonial element of the funeral, coupled with the low cost option, means no-frills, unattended funerals are growing in popularity.

Darryl also highlighted the advantage of pre-paid plans which allow people to plan their funerals and pay upfront in instalments. “One of the key advantages of pre-paid plans is they protect against these rising costs. So however much it costs at the time you take the plan out, that is how much it will cost – no matter how much disbursement fees or other costs may rise.”

Finally Darryl recommended all families to seek out funeral firms that are members of the National Association of Funeral Directors. Although not an official regulatory body their members have to uphold the NAFD’s high standards to maintain their status as a member.

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