Competition watchdog to lift lid on funeral market

Britain's competition watchdog has launched an in-depth investigation into the funeral sector amid fears that grieving families are being ripped off.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it is "concerned about the effectiveness of competition" in the sector, with its probe to focus on funeral directors and the supply of crematoria services.

Some funeral directors, it said, were taking advantage of the "vulnerability of many people" by charging higher prices.

Firms are also reluctant to publish clear prices, including online, or to provide comprehensive information on quality and range, making it difficult for people to compare funeral directors.

The CMA said low numbers of crematoria providers in some areas, coupled with the difficulty faced by new companies entering the market, is leading to less competition.

It said the largest private crematoria operators have raised prices by an average 6% to 8% each year for the past eight years and some local authorities have also implemented large increases.

Dignity, one of the biggest funeral providers, said it welcomes the probe.

Boss Mike McCollum said: "Dignity has made clear that we welcome the CMA's investigation into the funeral market and look forward to continuing our work with the CMA and other industry bodies to protect consumers."