The Funeral Service Consumer Standards Review, an independently-chaired, industry-led project focused on improving quality, standards and outcomes for funeral service consumers, has launched the second stage in a two part consultation process, which explores proposals to improve the consumer experience of transparency and standards within the funeral sector.
Funeral consumers are not always equipped with the knowledge they need to ensure they can obtain the funeral services they require at a fair price. Unlike many other significant purchases, such as booking a package holiday or buying a new car, consumers tend not to have much advance knowledge about the funeral service options available to them. This means that they can be quite reliant on information immediately available to them at the time of need, which is often the emotional stress of recent bereavement.
The funeral industry has come under criticism for generally failing to make sufficient information about their offerings and pricing options available to the public. In particular, it has been highlighted that limited pricing information is available to consumers online and little means by which to judge quality standards. This can make it difficult for time constrained consumers to compare different providers and the service options available to them.
This stage of the consultation focuses on improving transparency of information within the funeral sector, and considers ways in which funeral directing businesses could present information about their services and pricing in order to improve outcomes for consumers. Among other things, the document seeks views on whether consumers would benefit from funeral directors making certain key information available to consumers online.
The proposals in the document were shaped by a cross-sector working group, which met across 2019 and included not only funeral professionals, but experts from consumer advocacy and other stakeholders too.
Lewis Shand Smith, Chair of the FSCSR, urged funeral firms to help shape the final Code of Practice by participating in the consultation. “We want to hear everyone’s opinion.” he said. “We are committed to ensuring consumers can more easily compare the services and prices of different funeral directors, and feel confident that, no matter which funeral director they eventually choose, they will receive a good standard of service and care for their loved one.”
The deadline for responding to the consultation is midnight on 20 March 2020, giving the FSCSR Stakeholder Reference Group and other interested stakeholders just over a month to participate.