A Fife funeral directors is welcoming stringent new legislation aimed at improving transparency within the sector.
Last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) completed an in-depth investigation into the funerals sector after concerns over price transparency.
Having issued a legal order to funeral directors and crematorium operators, new rules came into force last month.
The new legislation requires funeral directors and crematorium operators to be clearer, allowing customers to make better informed comparisons and choices.
All funeral directors have to display a standardised price list at their premises and on their website.
It should cover the headline price of a funeral, the price of the individual items comprising the funeral and the price of additional products and services.
Details also need to be given in relation to any deposit requirements, payment options and late payment charges.
New legislation overdue, says Fife firm boss
Crosbie Matthew has funeral homes in Dalgety Bay, Rosyth, Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes.
Before the legislation came into force, the Fife firm created an online ‘cost calculator’.
It aims to provide families with an accurate estimate of their final bill.
The calculator covers options and costs of everything from the venue and style of coffin to transport and memorial plaque.
Managing partner Sheila Matthew, whose late father Willie bought the firm in 1984, believes the new legislation is overdue.
She said: “Like most services, funerals come with different options and costs.
“When buying something significant, most people want to research these options, know the price in advance, what’s included and when and how they pay.
“For too long, this hasn’t been easy for families.
“Many funeral directors were not being upfront or their pricing was vague and potentially misleading, adding to the turmoil and stress families were facing.
“Families sometimes made quick, uninformed decisions and received a real shock when it was time to settle their bill.
“Worse still, vulnerable people may end up paying more than they should.”
‘Proud to be more transparent than the law’
Crosbie Matthew, which employs 15 staff, has service rooms available at its Glenrothes and Kirkcaldy funeral homes.
The firm also owns a fleet of hearses and limousines, ensuring that all transport requirements are taken care of in-house.
In 2019, the firm brought in free bereavement support to help families come to terms with the loss of a loved one.
The funeral directors brought in qualified counsellors with families offered up to six counselling sessions.
Ms Matthew, who has worked for the company for over 30 years, welcomed the new legislation, which came into force on September 16.
She added: “We care about the families we support. We are proud to be more transparent than the law requires.
“Transparency is about more than costs – it’s about being approachable, welcoming and answering any questions a family might have.
“Sometimes families are nervous to ask questions about the process or the care of their loved one.
“Providing support and reassurance is very central to how we operate.”