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Government bonds or taxes ‘could pay for funerals’

A quarter of funeral directors want regulation in the industry

Tax and national insurance contributions could be used to pay for people’s funerals, according to a survey of funeral directors.

Instead of loved ones having to foot the bill, or having to apply for a pauper’s funeral, the basic cost could be covered by a government contribution.

This could then be supplemented by the deceased’s funeral policy, or by their loved ones, should a more expensive or personalised funeral be desired, SunLife’s latest Cost of Dying report suggests.

The interviews with funeral directors reveal that one in six want to see something done about costs – 7% want more transparency around costs and 9% would like to see prices brought down – while one in 25 want to see greater funding from the government.

Mark Robson, a funeral director from Green Undertakings of Watchet, said there should be a government bond for every single person that dies.

“That bond would be, say, £2,000 and the family could take that to any funeral director in the country and they should be able to do the funeral for that price,” he explained.

The survey also found one in four funeral directors in the UK want to see regulation in the funeral industry, with a number expressing concerns that anyone can start up a business as a funeral director. 

One director said that one of the biggest challenges facing the funeral industry is unlicensed, unprofessional people coming into the funeral business “just to rip people off”, while others feel regulation doesn’t go far enough.

Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife, said: “Earlier this year the Competition Market Authority took a closer look at the funeral industry, using SunLife’s data to better understand funeral costs, which have continued to rise year on year. We’ve spoken to a hundred funeral directors around the UK to get their views, and it’s clear they’re keen for people to get more support – including formal regulation of the funeral industry, government covering the cost of a basic funeral and encouraging people to shop around rather than just go to the first funeral director they find.”

According to the report, one in eight people suffer notable financial concerns paying for a loved one’s funeral, yet just 2% get any help from the government.

Just one in five people organising a funeral get more than one quote and 35% don’t get any.