In loving memory of
Date – Thursday 7th November
Time – 11am
Location – Kirkleatham Crematorium
In lieu of flowers, all donations to be split between Macmillan Cancer Support and The Donkey Sanctuary
Below is an article that I wrote about pre-paid funerals plans for the National Federation of Funeral Directors (NFFD), of which I am the Head of Member Services.
I have been doing some research recently as I was asked to write an article by our local radio station (who also have a magazine) about funeral plans. To help me, I wanted to look at what others had written to help me form this article. I have to say – I was shocked at what was being said by both public and some funeral professionals.
My first point in this is that yes, the funeral industry and pre-paid funeral plans can be a mystery for people. There is incorrect, misleading information, and scaremongering everywhere. Focusing on the pre-paid funeral plans side of this – there are different points to look at.
Insurance or Plan?
Many people in the public do not know when they see an advert on TV or hearing a radio ad about paying for your funeral, if this is a plan or insurance. Many do not even know the difference between them. Insurance plans are there to offer a lump sum upon death, to be used however you wish. A funeral plan is there to pay for your funeral – that’s the big difference. Speaking as a funeral director, I also get paid for the funeral either before or within a few weeks of the funeral date (depends on the company providing the plan policy). Now, insurance, is very different. Families are not getting paid until up to months after the funeral. So, this causes stress and worry to the family as the bill must be paid and also stress and worry for the funeral director who’s wondering when they will be paid. Whole life insurance plans, say like an over 50s one, could also mean that you pay more then the value of the insurance pay-out. This all depends on how long you actually live for. I have encountered this myself with people that have come in to us worried that the payments they have made to date equates to the sum assured. The insurance plan will still need to be paid every month until death or your 90th birthday.
Today I read about a Funeral Director advising people against funeral plans and towards putting the money into an ISA. Now, sounds great but, that money could be used for anything and not actually go towards the cost of the funeral. The ISA rate will undoubtable be below the inflation rate year on year for the price of a funeral, meaning the amount saved will still not cover the costs.
Now of course when funeral prices are mentioned, as we all know, the funeral directors are the ones who are down as greedy. Please let me take this opportunity to say that this is not, always, the case. When looking at the prices of funerals, it is the third party charges that change each year. Of course, some professional charges will need to change as prices increase for stock such as coffins and increases in wages (including minimum wage). When looking at pre-paid funeral plans, it should be researched just like you can with an at need funeral. That is the best advise anyone can give in my opinion, and of course that an independent funeral director may offer a better value of funeral plan (especially if they have a plan provider that lets them offer plans at their own prices, like Safe Hans Funeral Plans).
It is not all about the financial side of it when taking out a pre-paid funeral plan. I actively encourage people to write down their wishes within the application or to take away one of our Funeral Wishes leaflets. That is the other side of pre-paying: planning it was well.
Many people will say “just leave me out with the rubbish” or “why should I care what happens to me?” To anyone that truly feels that way, take out a direct cremation package then its all sorted and paid for, also you are not leaving your family to deal with the stress of paying for it. Isn’t that the other main aspect of doing all this? I have seen such a difference in families where there has been a pre-paid plan. Its been paid for, its all sorted and I know exactly what the deceased wanted because I met them, I spoke with them, I recorded it all down for them and reassured them that it was all paid for.
Yes I am biased – but I would not use a plan provider I did not trust. I know that Safe Hands allows me to sell my plans at my prices, and that’s what I want. I know that the funeral is paid for and I know that I will get that money back, plus the growth of the plan. The ONLY admin fee I will pay is the £75, and I pass that on when the plan is taken out. Who else offers this kind of service in the world of pre-paid funeral plans. Not only this, but I would never dream of asking for more money from a family when they have paid their plan in full. Now, I do understand that there are plan providers out there who have high commissions rates to sellers and then take a large admin fee so the funeral director is only left with enough to cover costs. This is not something that should be paid for by the family in my opinion, but something that needs to be tackled by everyone against these companies. Choose a plan provider that doesn’t take away from you and to people looking at taking a plan out: look at the whole of the market, and never go too low if not directly from a funeral director.
I was invited back this week to be a guest on Zetland FM, something that is a great experience. Julie and I spoke about pre-payment plans on the show. This included where the money goes, what can you plan, the costs involved, why prices go up and how important it is to talk about planning your own funeral.
Should you wish to listen to the show, the link below gives the hour slot that I was in. For any more information, or just a chat about it please get in contact with us.
Marske Open Day
This has been a very exciting time for all involved within Roseberry Funeral Service. We have recently launched our sister shop within Marske.
It has been a long process and the whole place needed completely taking back and re-doing but now we have a wonderful new premises. We have created a place where we hope people will feel at ease and a dedicated chapel of rest. It was very important to all of us that anyone that wanted to come and see their loved ones could do so within Marske.
The official opening day was on a wet and windy Tuesday 29th March. We invited all the local businesses around, ward councillors, local ministers and people from the general public. We have had Jeremy Gartland from Zetland FM there to officially open us and Father Pat Smith to bless our chapel of rest.
We had a very special attraction that day with our motorbike hearse outside. This caused a lot of interest and many came to talk to us and take photographs. This was to show one of the many different options that people have when planning a funeral.
If anyone missed out on coming to have a look and meeting us, please feel free to come by.
Looking at the research by the University of Bath and at societies like the Quaker Social Action and Dying Matters, the need to talk about Funeral Poverty is increasing. Its not just talking that is important though, the time for action against this is now.
What is funeral poverty? In 2014 it was estimated that a staggering 100,000 people couldn’t afford to die. I personally think this is a very low figure and does not go into the full story. Many people are struggling to meet the costs of living and do not plan for their own funeral. When someone in the family does pass away, inevitably in these situations, there is no money to pay for a funeral. There are agencies that can help but little is known about them. The one that I have most involvement with is the Department of Works and Pensions. For people that are married and receiving benefits there is the Bereavement Payment (up to £2000). If you are not married or a different relation to the deceased there is Social Fund (cost of burial or cremation and £700 towards funeral costs). In my experience it is the Social fund that has the most applications. The amounts given for both are outdated and can still leave a balance to be paid.
It’s not just the people receiving benefits that struggle financially on a daily basis and when needing to pay for a funeral. The cost of living these days is high and many people do not have savings or a disposable income to hand. It is also these people that I feel need the financial help.
The Quaker Social Action has been a driving force in brining funeral poverty to light. A fair funeral pledge was agreed in order to help people make a decision when it comes to selecting a funeral director. With the pledge, each funeral director is committed to:
2. Make our most affordable funeral package visible to the public, including third party costs.
3. Charge clear prices for goods and services so people know what they’re buying. Communicate prices in initial conversations and prominently display full price lists.
I am one of the funeral directors that has agreed to the pledge. I always feel that I can do more though, and have ensured my prices are the lowest around but they are set fairly.
Many people have asked me “Why are you so cheap?” The answer to this:
I’m not cheap I’m fair in my pricing and because I can be. I don’t have the big overheads of other companies so why charge the same amount. I understand that people can struggle with costs and that is why I have different funeral “packages” available. From the direct cremation, direct cremation plus service, simple funeral to a bespoke service, still put together with fair prices.
For anyone out there looking for help and signposting for financial help these services may be of some assistance:
Agencies that may be able to help financially:
For any further help please call in to us or contact Roseberry Funeral Service on 01642 756324.
I am so proud and honoured to have been selected for “Most Promising New Funeral Director” in the 2015 Good Funeral Awards. This nomination has come from the clients that I have helped through a very difficult time and that means the world to me.
At Roseberry Funeral Service we try to be different from others. This has been something that I think surprises the people that I have dealt with. We offer a very unique, personal service and being part of the Fair Funeral Pledge is very important to us. I have been told only today “You’re just too nice, we can’t thank you enough”. I want to thank all of you for deciding to come to us, giving us the trust in caring for you and your loved ones, the support of the community that we have had and also to thank the independent panel of judges for recognising us and what we stand for.
Graham and I are very much looking forward to attending the awards on the 5th September at The King Alfred Campus, University of Winchester. Fingers crossed!
For more information on the awards please click here
To celebrate Armed Forces Day we have two changes that have been made. The first is the wonderful window display. The window now has many artefacts that have been very kindly donated by Kirkleatham Museum. This includes a full ATS uniform and a bomb shell. I do love to see people stopping as the walk by and looking at the window.
In addition to this new display we have also created an “Armed Forces Funeral Package”. As you can see below this includes everything for a funeral befitting anyone that has served. It is something that I am very proud to be able to offer.