"I think people are much more aware now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the number of fatalities that have come as a result of it."
Adam Deering, Pride Funeral Care
The owner of a Merseyside funeral directors is calling for more transparency in the industry to prevent families plunging into debt.
Adam Deering says the funeral sector badly needs new regulations to prevent the costs plunging bereaved people in serious "funeral poverty".
Mr Deering – co-owner of Pride Funeral Care, with branches in Southport and Huyton – says he’s too often seen families spiral into the red because of being hit with hefty bills they can't afford.
He said: "Funeral parlours need to show prices on their websites, in their windows and the price of a funeral should be agreed before it takes place.
“There needs to be more transparency on pricing prior to a funeral because people are finding they get this big bill.
"When you're in an emotional state and have lost your mum or dad just days ago, for example, are you really in the right frame of mind to be making major financial decisions? No, you're not.
"But people do, sadly, and they don't realise the cost. They just think, 'I'll sort it out later'. The next thing is they're in funeral poverty.
“It's a big problem. I mean it's bad enough paying your credit card off. So imagine being in debt and having to pay off your mum's funeral."
Mr Deering, who also runs pre-paid funeral plan provider Pride Planning, says there is an element of awkwardness in people not demanding pieces up front.
He added: “People don't know because they don't ask. Understandably, they are too overcome with grief and they're suddenly having to make all these decisions.
"There's never a more emotional time in someone's life.
"Unfortunately, some funeral directors know that and leverage on that.
"Some may say, 'Oh I'm sure your mum would want the best coffin', but they're being cremated. Why do you need to spend £3,000 on a coffin when you can get a one for £300?
"A lot of the time people don't even know what it costs until after they get a big bill."
The Pride Funeral Care and Pride Planning business models have taken a serious look at these and have devised affordable solutions that do not take advantage of an emotionally raw time.
Mr Deering said: "What we’ve done is put our prices in the window. These are the prices, this is what we can do a funeral for, this is what we charge.
"Sadly, on the websites of a lot of firms there is no transparency of pricing."
Mr Deering insists the coronavirus crisis has made people more frank and honest about mortality.
He added: “In the past it death was a bit of a taboo subject, something that was shunned in conversation.
“I think people are much more aware now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the number of fatalities that have come as a result of it.
"The problem with funerals is that the cost goes up about eight per cent every year, whether that's driven by the funeral directors' greed, crematorium fees or additional disbursements.
“So funeral plans protect you from the rising costs and it protects your next of kin. It's not the person who dies who is left with the bill.
“Ultimately you can take it out of probate, but that might take 18 months and someone has got to pay the funeral bill within 14 days.
"So people are taking out loans and using credit cards.
"Or the funeral director might issue them with a County Court Judgment.
"That actually happens. Funeral directors can be quite rapacious creditors. We wouldn't do that, we cost accordingly, but it happens."