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Funeral Poverty

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:40 pm on 11th September 2018.

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Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 3:40 pm, 11th September 2018

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, and that is on the list of things that I will look at.

We must also focus on the quality and the standards of funerals. I accept the point that my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings made, when he said that people do not necessarily shop around for funerals. Again, on my visits this summer, I was told that it is often the case that people go to the same funeral director that everyone else in their family has ever used, so that the relationship is built up. In this area, it is not necessarily an empowered consumer shopping around and using their buying power—I 100% get that.

Nevertheless, the CMA investigation is important as it will shape our work going forward. We expect the interim report in November and the final report next May. This investigation will be integral to our work in the future, because it is a comprehensive review of what is happening out there in the market.

Also, the market is responding, which is a good thing. Both Dignity and the Co-operative, two of the biggest players in the market, have started to offer more affordable basic funeral packages; that is a great step. Following the CMA investigation, the onus will be on us as to how we can make such basic packages more of a given and build on them; that is a really important area for us to look at. The Royal London national funeral cost index has also been doing lots of investigations, and I will meet Royal London later in the year.

We have already made some vital improvements.