Co-op announces range of measures to tackle rising funeral costs

July 04, 2016
  • First business to sign Fair Funerals’ new enhanced pledge to tackle funeral poverty
  • Launches UK’s most affordable national fully-guaranteed funeral plan
  • Introduces new lower payment options for funeral plans from under £15 per month
  • Encourages shift towards planning ahead financially for a funeral, helping to potentially save families £6,500 over 25 years

The UK’s leading funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare, has increased its efforts to combat the rising cost of funerals by launching a new range of measures on affordability.

The measures represent the second major initiative by the Co-op this year in support of its long term commitment to improve funeral affordability. The steps announced see Co-op working with Fair Funerals to become the first funeral provider to sign up to the campaigning organisation’s new enhanced pledge to tackle funeral affordability.

Run by anti-poverty charity, Quaker Social Action, the Fair Funerals campaign was launched in 2014 as the first national campaign to tackle the root causes of funeral poverty. Recognising that many people may struggle to meet funeral costs, the campaign first launched a pledge calling for the support of funeral directors to tackle this issue in 2015.

The enhanced Fair Funerals Pledge goes above and beyond what was previously in place and requires funeral directors to help people find funerals within their budget by displaying the full price of affordable options both online and in their funeral homes. The pledge also calls for prices displayed to include average third party costs such as burial and cremation fees, a key component of overall funeral costs.

Forming part of a broader focus on ensuring that funerals remain accessible and affordable, Co-op has also today relaunched its range of funeral plans. The range now includes the UK’s most affordable** national fully-guaranteed funeral plan, the Simple Funeral Plan, which is a new addition to the Co-op’s planning range and costs £2,995 inclusive of third party costs.

Unlike other plans in the market, all Co-op’s set funeral plans fully cover all future funeral costs, including third party fees. These third party costs such as clergy fees, cremation charges, burial costs and doctors’ fees currently amount to £1,040*** on average and have been rising year on year. By covering all essential funeral costs, the range helps to safeguard against rising costs, ensuring that bereaved families are not left having to find extra money for a funeral.

Highlighting the importance of funeral planning, should costs continue to rise at the current rate it is estimated that taking out a fully guaranteed plan could save families more than £6,500 over 25 years***. In a move to encourage individuals to plan ahead for a funeral, families taking out a Co-op funeral plan also now also have the option to pay gradually starting from £15 per month****.

These measures follow a key initiative announced earlier this year by the Co-op. This saw the business reduce prices by 7% on its most affordable funeral option for those without a plan, the Simple Funeral, whilst also improving the options it offers clients by introducing new measures including an enhanced coffin and extended hours of support for the bereaved.

Richard Lancaster, Managing Director for Co-op Funeralcare said:

“At the Co-op, we are committed to a better way of doing business. Funeral poverty is a growing issue and it is absolutely key that we take action and play our part in helping to tackle this. The measures we have announced today are a further step on this journey.

“Being the first business to sign Fair Funerals’ new enhanced pledge highlights our long-term intentions in wanting to ensure that against an industry backdrop of rising funeral costs, quality funerals remain both an accessible and affordable option.”

Heather Kennedy, Campaign Manager for Fair Funerals said:

“When we’re grieving, talking about money is often the last thing we want to do, and calling around different funeral directors to compare costs can seem very daunting. So it’s absolutely essential that funeral directors put prices on their websites. Unfortunately most funeral directors don’t do this.

“We’re delighted Co-op Funeralcare, as the UK’s leading funeral provider, have signed up to our enhanced pledge and put prices on their websites. Shopping around funeral directors is really important, especially for people worried about money, because there’s such big differences in what they charge. Today’s announcement will make it easier for people to shop around and find a funeral they can afford.”

For more from Heather Kennedy and the Fair Funerals organisation, please watch the following videos:


Notes to Editors:

References
*According to a comparison of national funeral plan providers, the Simple Funeral plan is the most affordable set plan for both burial and cremation available nationwide and fully covering third party costs
** Co-op’s own internal data outlining the average third party costs paid by clients in 2016
***Figures based on a lump sum investment of £2,995 in a Simple Funeral Plan and based on an assumption that funeral costs continue to increase annually at a rate of 3.9% (3.9% rate derived from Royal London Funeral Cost Index 2015)
****Figure based on someone taking out a Simple Funeral Plan aged 55 (payments over 25 years) without a deposit.  Lower monthly payment options available with deposit

For further information please contact:

Lauren Hoult / 07702 505 626 / lauren.hoult@co-operative.coop
Catherine Turner / 07834 090783 / catherine.turner@co-operative.coop

About Co-op Funeralcare:

Co-op Funeralcare is the UK’s leading funeral provider and part of the Co-op, the UK’s largest co-op business, whose purpose is “Championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities.”

Further information is available at: www.co-operativefuneralcare.co.uk

About the Co-op:
The Co-op, which is the UK’s largest co-operative business with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services, has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of approximately £11 billion