The UK Government is preparing to formally regulate funeral plan providers within the scope of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The reason for this is because voluntary regulation by the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) which regulates 95% of the industry lacks the power to prevent pre-paid funeral plan providers from trading and their code of practice is not legally binding.
The UK Treasury is launching a consultation to prevent people from being ripped off when they are at their most vulnerable as a result of alarming research from Citizens Advice Scotland and Fairer Finance.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen said, “I’m appalled at the lengths some dishonest salesmen have gone to in order to sell a funeral plan. It breaks my heart to think that our oldest and most vulnerable are being pressured in to funeral plans that leave their grieving families out of pocket. There are thousands of pre-paid funeral plans bought each year and most providers are fair and legitimate, but tougher regulation will ensure robust standards are enforced for all plan providers and protect individuals and their families if things go wrong.”
Demand for funeral plans has soared by about 245% between 2006 and 2017, although regulations have remained the same since 2001.
Consumers are obviously not around to measure service against delivery and expectations with the purchase of these products. With these plans costing upwards of £3,000, it’s clear that tighter regulation is required to ensure that customer’s money is safe.
Cold-calling and mis-selling is rife and rogue traders have identified a gap in the regulations. Consumers are mistakenly believing that this is a regulated activity that falls within the remit of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Other options include putting the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) on to a statutory footing so their rules and regulations are legally binding and enforceable.
The FCA may end up regulating this activity. You will be able to search on their website if a funeral plan provider is licensed and regulated to conduct such activity.
I am inclined to think that Personal Contract Plans could be the next mis-selling scandal, although it could be eclipsed by this.
What are your thoughts on funeral plan providers? Do you think this could be the next mis-selling scandal?