The Co-operative Group has taken steps to help tackle funeral affordability by improving its Simple Funeral plan and reducing average costs by approximately £140, or 7%.
Co-op Funeralcare, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Group, is the largest funeral director in the UK, with over 900 funeral homes, 5 crematoria and 3 woodland burial grounds. The announced changes follows the news last year that funeral costs have increased by 80% in the last decade.
The average industry charge for a basic funeral is now quoted at approximately £3,700, in addition to enhanced features. Co-op Funeralcare’s re-launched Simple Funeral option has a fixed national price of £1,995, exclusive of third party costs (such as doctor, clergy and cremation fees). Once third party costs are accounted for, Co-op Funeralcare estimates that the improved Simple Funeral will save clients approximately £700 in comparison to the average basic funeral.
“Losing a loved one is incredibly difficult and decisions about funeral arrangements can be especially hard in a time of grief, particularly when there are concerns about keeping within a tight budget,” said Richard Lancaster, managing director for Co-op Funeralcare. “Our new Simple Funeral has been designed to better meet these needs, making it more affordable without in any way compromising on the quality of service or our industry leading standards of care.”
As well as the 7% cost reduction, Co-op Funeralcare’s changes include further cost reductions of £250 for members, and increased cost transparency. Following customer and colleague research, the organisation will also be offering extended hours of service, increased radius of travel, increased availability for visiting the deceased and an enhanced quality coffin.
William Millar, president of the National Association of Funeral Directors, said: “The NAFD remains concerned that there are a growing number of people who find themselves unable to meet the costs of even a very simple funeral. The NAFD and its members, including Co-operative Funeralcare, are committed to ensuring funeral directors not only offer a range of affordable options and clear pricing, but also the support that families need, at a difficult time, to say farewell to a loved one.
“The Association warmly welcomes any moves by members to provide increased choice for bereaved families and is also continuing to campaign for improved government support for those most in need.”
The announcement was also welcomed by anti-poverty charity Quaker Social Action, who launched the Fair Funerals pledge in 2014. The pledge, which encourages funeral businesses to make the most affordable funeral package visible to the public and charge clear prices for goods and services, has been signed by almost 400 funeral directors (around 10% of the industry) – including those at Heart of England, Lincolnshire and Scotmid co-operative societies.
“If you’re worried about money, having clear, transparent prices is incredibly useful to help you find a funeral you can afford, especially when there are such large differences between what funeral directors charge,” said Heather Kennedy, Fair Funerals campaign manager.
“It’s very encouraging that Co-operative Funeralcare are thinking carefully about the issue of funeral poverty and considering what they can do to make funerals more affordable. As part of their work in this area, we will be contacting them directly and asking them to sign up to the Fair Funeral pledge, which asks funeral directors to recognise funeral poverty and commit to providing transparent prices so people can find funerals that are within their means.”
Join the Conversation