A funeral price war is starting, with Co-op slashing prices as well as introducing a range of new measures to tackle funeral affordability.
Co-op says it is now offering to beat any other funeral provider's like for like quote on price. It will also be lowering the cost of its affordable funeral option by £100 to £1,895 and £1,675 in Scotland (plus third-party costs).
Members of the Co-op will receive an increased discount of £200 - or 5% if greater - on all of Co-op’s core funeral options. This will take the member price of a Simple Funeral – the most affordable plan - to £1,695.
The measures are a reaction to recent findings from Co-op’s biggest ever survey on death and bereavement, which found that four million Brits suffered financial hardship after a bereavement.
Robert Maclachlan, managing director of Co-op Funeralcare and Later Life Planning, says: “The fact that four million Brits have suffered financial hardship after a bereavement is startling.
“As a member owned organisation, the changes we are making form part of a long term focus we have on leading the market to further assist the bereaved in tackling funeral affordability.”
Rising funeral costs pushing people into debt
According to new research by SunLife, funeral costs have risen 4.7% the past year to an average of £4,271, which is putting people under increasing financial pressure.
Worryingly, Sunlife’s research found that two in five (38%) of people don’t make any financial provisions for their funeral leaving families with an average bill of £2,559.
This has caused one in eight - up from one in 10 last year – to have ‘notable financial concerns’, while 16% are forced to sell belongings to pay bills.
Earlier this year the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a review into the £2 billion funerals market to ensure that people are not getting a bad deal.
As part of the review the watchdog will be looking at the soaring cost of cremation fees which now account for 75% of all funeral costs.
The government has also launched a crackdown on the pre-paid funeral market to stamp out bad practice in the sector.
It is looking to introduce stricter regulation over concerns that consumers are being ripped off, pressured, harassed and misled by rogue providers.