We’re Giving Dignity a Helping Hand 4

James and Sharon Dunn uploading Dignity prices

Here at Beyond, we believe everyone has a right to an affordable funeral. We also believe that before we can make that right a reality, there needs to be price transparency in the funeral industry. It’s why we do what we do: help people compare funeral director costs for free, online, with no obligation.

It’s also why, when we heard that that Dignity Plc (the UK’s second largest funeral chain) made a commitment in January 2017 to make their prices available online by January 2019 – that is, two years later  – we decided to step in.

We don’t believe a company with Dignity’s resources should need two years to put prices online. So, we’ve done the work for them.

What exactly have we done?

We spent the last few months of 2017 gathering and collating prices from 764 Dignity-owned funeral homes. And, as of today, we’re including all of them on our funeral director comparison tool – alongside the 1,000+ independents who have already chosen to be transparent with their pricing.

Visitors to our site will now be able to see where Dignity branches are, what name the branch is using, and (most importantly) how much they charge compared to the independents in the same area. It looks something like this:

Funeral Prices in Glasgow - screenshot from www.beyond.life
Funeral Prices in Glasgow – screenshot from www.beyond.life

Or, to put it another way:

How much does a funeral cost in the UK? Dignity vs Independents
Cost of a Funeral – Dignity vs Independents

As a bonus, here are a few interesting facts about those prices:

  • The average cost of a Dignity-arranged ‘traditional’ funeral, with funeral director expenses, a hearse, one limousine and a wood veneer coffin is £4,659 – that’s not including third party costs, like the cost of the burial or cremation.
  • This is more than double the average for an equivalent funeral arranged by the independent funeral directors on Beyond, £2,087.
  • The most expensive branch we found was Jonathan Harvey in Glasgow, which charges £5,300 for a funeral with a hearse, one limousine and a wood veneer coffin (again, excluding third party costs).
  • The least expensive location we found was W Williams & Son in the leafy Cheshire village of Tarvin, which came in at £2,195 for the same funeral.
  • That’s a difference of £3,105 between inner-city Glasgow and a Cheshire village.
  • Our data also revealed some odd pricing structures. For example: in Newcastle, if you go into R S Johnson & Sons you will pay £4,850 for the package above. But if you drive 10 minutes down the road (just 2 miles) to Peter Johnson Funerals, you’ll save yourself £1,800 and pay only £3,050.

James and Sharon Dunn uploading Dignity pricesWhere does this price information come from?

The horse’s mouth. From July  to December last year, our intrepid team of volunteers gathered price sheets from 764 of the 814 Dignity-owned funeral homes in the UK. Fuelled by mince pies and justice, our co-founder James Dunn then teamed up with his mum Sharon to painstakingly enter every detail into our system over the Christmas break. It was very festive.

We warmly invite Dignity to send us any new or revised pricing whenever available – we’d be very happy to update our site and analysis accordingly (and give Sharon a welcome break).

How do the independent funeral directors on Beyond compare?

Over 1,000 independent funeral directors have chosen to list their costs on Beyond. On average, they’re 36% cheaper than the national average funeral cost, and 123% cheaper than Dignity funeral chains in particular. And like us, they believe that people have a right to arrange the funeral their loved one deserves, without worrying about finances.

For this reason and others, we remain committed to championing the amazing work these independent funeral directors do – and we’re confident that they will continue to flourish.

UPDATE: Dignity have recently responded to our research by questioning our methodology. You can check out our reply and find out more about how we collect and compare accurate prices here.

Want to find out more? Explore our funeral director comparison tool here, or contact the Beyond team at [email protected] for further details.

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4 Comments

  1. This is a brilliant tool to help families see where real transparency Liz found! Not in gimmicks and PR stunts of the corporate funeral provider.

  2. Well done! It’s about time someone did this. Opaque pricing in the industry has been a big issue since the big guys tried to monopolize the market. Well done Beyond!

  3. Excellent work. At last people can actually see the true difference between the conglomerates and the independents, allowing them to make an informed decision with regard to the costs.

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Introducing Our New Look … 0

Hello!

You might have noticed a few changes around here – big ones. New brand colours, a new website, and even a handsome new mascot. It’s all part of the new Beyond: a friendlier, warmer look for the UK’s knowledgeable companion for everything after life.

Why the new look?

Well, it has been a while since we chose our old look. But we also thought that, with hundreds of people coming to us every day for help during what is often the hardest time of their life, our site should be an approachable and warm place to visit.

So, we chose a brighter, more inviting colour palette, and our lovely bearded mascot here to represent the personality of the brand. An intelligent, knowledgeable and trustworthy companion, he’s always there when you need him to offer a helping hand.

Another reason for the change is that we’ve come a long way from our humble Funeralbooker beginnings, and felt that it was about time our website reflected the full range of support we offer.

After all, we’re more than just a funeral comparison site now, with probate, funeral finance, wills, and funeral plans rounding out our services to help even more families find the support they need. We believe there’s no better place to find those services, and we wanted a look that really showcased all we can do.

Yet …

Some things don’t change

Beyond mascot takes n otes while sitting in a chair.While we invite you to explore and enjoy our new look and new services, we feel it’s also important to reassure you that some things will still remain the same.

We started this business with the aim of making the search for a funeral director a more transparent process. Before Beyond, barely anyone in the industry published their prices online. Now, over 1,000 funeral directors have joined with us to give hundreds of thousands of families in the UK a chance for a better deal – and a better funeral director.

We owe a thousand thanks to all those who joined us on this journey towards a much needed change. With your help, we want to continue making this industry a fairer one for everyone.

Thank you,

The Beyond Team

Child Burial and Cremation Fees to be Dropped in Scotland 0

Scotland burial cremation fees

The Scottish government has announced this week that all cremation and burial fees for children’s funerals will be abolished, a welcome move that will provide valuable relief for bereaved parents.

Following on from similar decisions in both England and Wales, the Scottish Government has pledged to provide £500,000 each year to cover the cost of all cremations and burials for children under the age of 18.

The average cost of a cremation in the UK is over £700 and the average burial is £1,792, a huge burden for families who are already struggling with the devastating loss of a child.

While campaigns against the fees had already led many Scottish local authorities drop them already for children under the age of 16, this move will provide welcome relief for those who would have otherwise been left out due to their location or the age of their child, ending a situation critics had called a “postcode lottery”.

In a statement, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities Angela Constance said:

“The death of a child is one of the most tragic experiences that anyone can go through.

“At such difficult times, it is important that we look to support parents and families. We have been actively looking for some time at ways in which we can further support bereaved parents in Scotland with funeral costs.

“Most local authorities do not charge child burial and cremation fees but the picture across Scotland is a mixed one, as local authorities introduce adult burial and cremation charges at different ages across the country.

“We agree with COSLA [the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities] that no family should have to pay to bury or cremate their child. I am therefore delighted to confirm this agreement between the Scottish Government and COSLA.”

Councillor Elena Whitham, COSLA spokesperson for Community Wellbeing, said:

“Scottish local authorities have had a long-standing commitment to waiving or discounting their charges for children’s funerals and cremations.

“It is a truly awful to have to manage the burden of a funeral or cremation for a child. We are acutely aware that none of us plan for the financial costs because we don’t expect it to happen to our families. For some, any charges can lead to high cost borrowing and financial crisis.

“We are pleased to work together with the Scottish Government to ensure that all local authorities can fully commit to removing their charges for the burial or cremation of those aged under 18.”